Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Alas, Poor Yorick

There is something about the thought of leaving our bodies when we die that gives us all the heebee jeebees. We spend so many years getting used to being in them, using them, abusing them, fixing them and figuring out how to work them that the idea of leaving them on Earth to decompose is excrutiatingly difficult to deal with. We all try so hard keep ourselves in our bodies longer, do whatever we can to improve them, adorn them, stitch them together in a futile effort to deny ourselves the fact that our physical presence on Earth is in fact temporary.
But what do we do with ourselves when we die? We have options, certainly. Egyptians used to believe that your physical self along with your belongings went with you into the afterlife, so of course you would want to preserve yourself and your things as long as possible. More modern thoughts on the subject say that we leave our bodies, rendering them useless in the hereafter, but out of respect and a sense of decency we take great care in the laying to rest of our mortal coils. But when you die, is what happens to your body your decision, or should that burden lie on the people who loved you most in life? Some people might try to exert some final level of influence from beyond the grave by demanding unusual and sometimes costly ways of handling their remains. Should you be a burden to your loved ones AFTER you have moved on, or should your family be willing to accept any demands you made regarding your body while you were alive?
We all want to know we were loved and will be remembered when we leave. We all hope and pray to our own individual gods that our passing will mean something to the ones we leave behind and that they will celebrate our lives in their own peculiar way. That is all we can ask for, really. Whether our bodies are laid to rest in the ground, ashes scattered into the ocean, or used by science to help save lives, it is not going to be up to us where we end up. Leave that to those who come after you, and who need those ceremonies, however bizarre, to remember you.

No comments: