Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cremation or Donation

I'm a big believer in donating one's body to science. My grandfather had both lung and throat cancer. Throughout his life he'd been a lover of science, so it was easy to respect his written wish to have his body donated. Nothing else would have seemed quite right to me, anyway. However, lots of people in my family were really upset when they found out that he'd already made these arrangements ahead of time which meant they couldn't stop Tulane from taking his body straight from my grandparent's house when he died. At the time, my mom certainly didn't approve.

I'm partial to cremation because I don't want my family wasting a bunch of money on an elaborate coffin and funerary flower displays and all of that fancy schmancy stuff. Okay, let me be honest. The biggest reason why I want to be cremated is strictly based on vanity. I HATE the way most morticians put make-up on the corpses. I mean, I understand that most of them aren't trained make-up artists but do they have to make you look like a painted-faced clown? People will be seeing my body for the last time and I have no desire for them to walk away with that sight stuck in their head for all eternity.

My parents have also let us know that they've made arrangements to be cremated. When I visited them in Dallas last year, they made sure to tell me that the urns they've purchased were in the guest room closet so that I'd know where to retrieve them from when they passed away. It was weird because they were just so dern upbeat about it. I was a bit creeped out for the rest of my visit because that's the room I had to sleep in. Knowing that the containers my parents planned to be put in were no more than three or four feet from where I was sleeping made me a wee bit uneasy.

However, lately, I have been thinking about whether or not it would be right for me to be cremated. I mean, maybe it would be a wasteful thing to do. My cancer is very rare. Most med school students won't ever see a tumor like mine. Having my body burned means that even fewer of them will get this opportunity. Heck, maybe getting a look at what it's done to my body will even help doctors figure out better ways of treating chondrosarcoma in the future.

7 comments:

Devious Diva said...

"I mean, maybe it would be a wasteful thing to do. My cancer is very rare. Most med school students won't ever see a tumor like mine. Having my body burned means that even fewer of them will get this opportunity. Heck, maybe getting a look at what it's done to my body will even help doctors figure out better ways of treating chondrosarcoma in the future"

I would never have thought of this! But you are right. Like with my mum and her rare condition. There is so much to learn from her and from you. For medical students, specialists, researchers, and for us out here who just read what you have to say and learn from it.

BLESSD1 said...

Don't feel that you're being too vain about perhaps wanting to be cremated. I understand that morticians do what they can when dressing the body, but no one wants to be remembered so un-natural looking in their passing.

Penny L. Richards said...

Check out the National Disease Research Interchange:
http://www.ndriresource.org/Donor_Programs/Individual_Donors/37/

It's different from donating your whole body/corpse for med students to dissect--this is donating specific organs for medical research--and people with rare disorders are particularly invited to help, for the reasons you mention.

Prole said...

Hi, so sorry for the completely OT post, but I couldn’t find an email anywhere.

You’ve been nominated for a Canadian F-word Blog Award (International category)!

Details (and code for a badge if you like) are at A Creative Revolution. Congratulations and good luck!

http://www.acreativerevolution.ca/node/596/

libhom said...

Donating your body or organs to science would be a very generous act. I guess that's what I should do. I have been trying to figure out what would be the least wasteful approach.

Donna said...

I think most bodies are still on display for the funeral and are cremated afterwards, so you might still have people looking at you with clown make-up! I think you might have to be very specific about how you want your funeral to go, cremated first, then the funeral. But if you do decide to donate your body you can still request that your remains be cremated and returned to your family after they are through with their research. I told my husband to donate any useful organs that might be used to extend a life or make a life better in some way and then cremate the rest of me. I think coffins and plots in the cemetery are a waste of money.

Jeff Trexler said...

Donating your body for research is truly a tribute to Social Enterprise. However, there are people in the world who have conservative historical views and who would never be able to approve of this, no matter what logic you use.
Funerals are done in many amazing ways all over the world. It has its own traditional and emotional value but it needs to be environment friendly. I really think that no tradition or emotion is worth at the cost of destruction of our earth.