An April 5th article from Associated Press asks “What do we do with the bodies?” It seems that big-city morgues and funeral homes are already overwhelmed even before the pandemic hits its peak. 1,000 bodies per day are expected soon.
The pandemic is forcing us to re-think a lot of our customs. Cadaver disposal is certainly one of them. The highly-lucrative funeral home industry won’t like it, but we need another solution.
The Old Way
Currently, grief stricken families pay out thousands of dollars and untold misery while disposing of their cadavers. Even cremation, which sounds cheap and simple, costs a lot. I understand that the Islamists use cremation, but I wonder if it’s simpler or cheaper than what the Christians do. Jews skip the crazier aspects and hurry their cadavers into the ground, but there’s still a lot of ceremony.
I have wondered how much useful real estate is being taken up by graveyards. I don’t know how much it is, but I know it’s growing and I’m pretty sure it’s useless.
Once the authorities finish all their paperwork, they release the corpse to the funeral home. There, the Christian thing to do is to suck out the guts and internal organs and substitute filler and chemicals. Then the cosmetologist pretties up the ugly remains so people will say, “he looks so peaceful” as they parade past.
Usually, a preacher gets his chance to say almost anything over the remains. Some of it may be true, but, in some cases, the preacher didn’t even know the dead person. One thing for sure, the preacher will take advantage of the occasion to proselytize for his particular set of beliefs.
A growing trend is toward “green funerals.” The grief-stricken get their cadaver back into the environment, usually in the form of compost. I imagine it is difficult for them to fight off the religious relatives who will insist on church involvement anyway. If the person died of Covid-19, nobody is going to want them in their compost.
Just about the only way to get around the funeral and religion industries is to donate one’s personal cadaver to a medical school. I did that decades ago, but I have a feeling that they wouldn’t take a body festering with Covid-19 germs, so the medical school escape route is probably closed.
Not everybody disposes of their cadavers the way we do in America. I understand there are still some Zoroastrians in the Middle East. They encourage buzzards and other scavengers to carry off as much as they will eat. But I’ll bet they wouldn’t do that with a Covid-19 victim! Diseased buzzard poo might end up in their vegetable garden!
If American bodies continue piling up from the pandemic, neither the Christians, the medical schools, nor the Zoroastrians have a practical solution for disposing of all these germy bodies. Fortunately, I do.
CHOP THEM UP AND POUR THEM
I thought of this before I saw the movie “Fargo.” We could adapt wood chippers to atomize cadavers. Most of the result would be liquid, so it could be poured into a hole. Probably 4-5 feet deep and 10 inches in diameter would hold a body.
Then we could sprinkle on some tree seeds and cover with our the dirt we just dug up. Just so we’d remember who went where, we could put a little brass plate on top. Then we could move a few feet over and start on another corpse. It probably wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes and $100 to get rid of the remains, and we would be planting some nice trees where, someday after the pandemic, the relatives could remember the deceased in a nice shady spot.
I’m well aware that mortuaries and religious fanatics are not going to like my suggestion for what to do with hundreds of thousands of virus victims. I encourage them to come forward with theirs.