Ashes, Mannequins, and Corpses: What Will Happen to You After Death?

The Federalist is a web magazine focused on culture, politics, and religion. I’ve written for them in the past about the funerals, marriage and divorce, as well as so-called “safe sex.” Yesterday, they published an article I wrote about after-death care of the body. In particular, I address questions about cremation. Here is the introduction and a link that will send you to the full article.

As if there’s not enough decisions to make in life, these days we’re even forced to make choices about what happens to us after we’re dead. If you’d like to go out with a bang, you can be cremated and have your ashes stuffed into fireworks so your family can ooh and aah as you’re blown into colorful smithereens in the night sky. Or your dressed and upright corpse, a stiff drink in hand, can be the life of the party as your friends gather round to drink and dance your demise away. Or, if you’re not really on the wild side, there’s always doctors and scientists eager for another cadaver. Hell, you might even go retro and be laid to rest in a coffin.

Alas, but even then, there are decisions to be made. You might opt for a funeral home with a drive-through window so the mourners—after they’ve grabbed a burger and fries down the street—can roll down their window, leave the A/C running, and take a quick gander at your remains as they dab their eyes with a McDonald’s napkin. Or if you make people actually get out of their cars and go into a church for a service, you need to decide if you want to have a Celebration of Life service or stick with the tried-and-true traditional funeral.

The long and short of this is that if you’re currently undecided as to what you’d like to happen to your corpse, know that every day your options expand. Death is not only a huge business; it’s also become quite the creative enterprise, full of entrepreneurs eager to Americanize death and cash in on your corp$e.

Before you make any decisions about your postmortem particulars, however, you might want to sit back and ponder bigger, more fundamental questions such as these: Should you even care what happens to your corpse? And, if so, why? So what if you’re cremated or left intact, celebrated or mourned, exploded in the heavens or buried under the earth? You’ll be dead, of course, so why should it matter what the living do with you?

Let me, first of all, tell you why I think it should matter to all of us. Secondly, let me spell out the practical implications that positive belief has for what we do with the body after death.

To read the full article, click here to go the Federalist website.


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3 thoughts on “Ashes, Mannequins, and Corpses: What Will Happen to You After Death?

  1. If the human body was valued so much by God then that body would not be prone to illness and decay. Many people have no say in the manner of which their own bodies are treated once they die. Some people went to work in the morning only to have to dive from burning towers before noon, most died by the very fire that took those buildings down, some people are mutilated beyond recognition by murderers and terrorists, some have such horrific diseases that their faces are unrecognizable before they even leave their bodies….there are a million ways to die that causes the body to be annihilated beyond our comprehension. The body has no importance once the soul leaves it.

    We are promised a new body one day. Meanwhile, our spirits inhabit something recognizable to those who enter Paradise upon dying. We will know our loved ones. They will know us. It is through God’s awesome power that He is able to remold us from decay and ash …that makes us whole once more. He can gather our ashes that have been spread from mountain tops or given up by the sea. It seems to be mere human vanity that places importance on an empty vessel. What about those poor Christian martyrs burned at the stake?

    I had to make the decision to have my son’s body cremated after he died by a gunshot to the head. He was a beautiful being whose body had been mortally wounded. While I wish I could have seen him…I did not. I will remember him as he was, smiling and handsome. I will know him when I get to Heaven one day. He will be perfectly recognizable only because this second go round all will be as it should have been before the fall of mankind..perfect. And it won’t be because he was treated according to some human attempt at preservation.

    I will be cremated only because I had to have my son cremated. If it was good enough for him it will be good enough for me. Thankfully our salvation is not hinged on mistakes we have made in this life that deals with our different cultural beliefs about burial and human remains.

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