[cancer] What to do with my body?

Unfortunately, I do not qualify as a medical school cadaver. I am too large and heavy. This apparently has to do with access to the internal organs as medical students dissect. Also, as liver failure will quite possibly figure prominently in my forthcoming demise, that can cause problems for teaching cadavers due to tissue discoloration.

So, back to the drawing board.

At a purely internal level, I’m completely unconcerned with the disposition of my body. As an atheist, the concept of bodily resurrection falls somewhere between laughable wishful thinking and deep irrelevance. I can be memorialized just fine without physical remains being present. We are in fact currently discussing memorial options.

If there were a convenient body farm here in the Pacific Northwest, I’d totally be down for that. But there doesn’t seem to be any such thing in the western United States.

Likewise, plastination is kind of cool. I may yet look into that.

Unfortunately, both the above options would leave my surviving loved ones in some distress, I am fairly certain.

Several people have suggested memorial diamonds. These are synthetic diamonds made from the cremation ash. As it happens, I think that’s intensely cool. And think how many diamonds you could make out of an entire human body! But prices start in the low $2,000s from small, low color grade diamonds, and quickly work their way up. I certainly cannot afford to have myself baked into fifty or a hundred diamonds.

On the other hand, we do have the makings of the world’s weirdest Kickstarter…

The reality will probably be cremation and the disposition of ashes. I might look into a serious steampunk reliquary as well. Anybody know any sculptors or fabricators in the steampunk art world who might be interested in such a thing?

I dunno. Still noodling. The diamond option really appeals to me, but I don’t think there’s much of a market for 1/4 caret pieces of me at $3,000 a pop.

What would you do with my body?

18 thoughts on “[cancer] What to do with my body?

  1. Laurie Mann says:

    I’m very much a torch & scatter person myself. But check with artists to see if your cremains would do them any good.

  2. This has actually started a dialogue with my hubs and kids on what to do with me when my time comes, and I have told them to do what my grandfather had my grandmother do (and some people may feel this is disrespectful but here goes); Grandma put grandpa’s ashes in a large salt-shaker. You know the big kind, and since she did a lot of traveling she’d carry it with her. Every time she went someplace, or saw something she thought he would like (that was outdoors) she’d sprinkle some and say something like “Hey hun look at that, you would have liked that!” (My grandfather was a geologist and always exploring the outdoors and rock/fossil hunting).

  3. Roy says:

    Perhaps you could go the diamond route via a Kickstarter to endow a new writing award with some of your diamonds in the trophy?

  4. Sean says:


    You know what I want. I want a small portion of your ashes to make my skeptical mojo bag.

  5. Mary T. says:

    Hello Jay, I don’t have any great suggestions but I can recommend an expert to contact. Her name is Heather Hernandez at mortuaryreport.com. She is an undertaker, atheist, and blogger and she comes highly regarded by her clients as “the funnest funeral director”. I think she might have some appropriate and sensitive ideas for you. Best regards, Mary

  6. Sorry Jay, I love ya and all. But I don’t want your body. Not even if it was all bright and sparkly.

    My plan for body disposal centers around my love of the Cascade Mountains: I want my friends to take my ashes up to the treeline at Mount Baker and dump me in the rocks.

    Of course the’ll probably pour me out halfway up because that is too long a hike. But I won’t care.

  7. Barbara F. Smoody says:

    distribution by friends. I’ll take some. a friend’s father answered “Surprise Me!” in the box asking about disposition of his remains. those who attended his memorial service were welcomed to take a small aliquot to carry out his wishes. and then there’s the Nicholson Baker short story called…hmmm.., maybe “Bone China”?

  8. Shlomi Harif says:

    I’m with you on disposition. I think a small, dignified shrine (something like the Taj, only less marble). Do they have any ‘sky burial’ sites in the US?

    Seriously, though: death mask. Punkers will like it for the Victorianesque quality. And they can be used as the form for a Halloween mask! 🙂

  9. I’m pretty sure human ashes have been used in ceramic works before, but only as a small portion of the clay and only after the rather grainy “ashes” have been ground a second time into a finer powder.

    We used some of the ashes from Hilde’s mother to fertilize Edna’s favorite rose bush. Still have the remainder, which we should probably figure out what to do with before we die too and just leave the issue to our son.

  10. ces says:

    Once I’m dead, I’m dead. Cremate me. Fly over Maui and let the ashes drift down onto the island in the wind. And no funeral, memorial service. Hey guys, I’m dead!

  11. pwstrain says:

    I’m going to be cremated, no memorial. Leaving specific instructions as to the many places I want my ashes scattered. That way when the kids want to go ‘visit’, they have to go someplace that meant something to me, or them, or us.

  12. Jay, about the steampunk reliquary idea. Tinplate Studios had some great stuff at FaerieWorlds last summer.


  13. Cora says:

    My family and friends know that I want to be cremated and my ashes scattered into the North Sea, which is pretty much the only “non-graveyard” option available in Germany. Taking home an urn or scattering the ashes of a loved one is illegal here – you have to get buried in a cemetary. Even if you choose the medical school donation option, your remains will still get buried in a cemetary, because [grave preacher voice] “the dead must be respected”. Luckily, the US has more options available. And echoing what the others said, do check with your family if any option would be completely inacceptable to them.

    As for plastination, Gunther von Hagens, the plastination guy, is always on the look-out for new bodies. And his exhibition attracts controversy wherever it goes, so you’d have the chance to be controversial long after you’re dead.

  14. Oh, man. Cremation ash diamonds are the coolest thing I’ve heard of. I’ll donate to that Kickstarter.

  15. Jerri Lyn says:

    First of all, I call bullshit on medical schools not accepting “large and heavy” cadavers. Do they really think they will be working with only average size bodies their whole careers? Are there no studies being done on the effect of X on big people? How about crash test “dummy” on the effect of average car sear belts on non-average size people?

    Assuming all research is out of the question, the plan for my oldest son is Viking burning at sea. And since that’s probably illegal in the United States, he’s agreed to cremation and his urn being put on a smaller replica of a Viking Longship which is then set on fire on a lake.

    I’ve also seen a really cool concept for an urn where the wood is turned to provide a silhouette of the deceased when the light hits it just right. This is the only thing I could find with today’s Google-Fu, although I know I’ve seen more about ordering one for yourself: http://mocoloco.com/archives/016054.php

  16. Stevie says:

    Being large and heavy is good; statistically speaking your life expectancy is better than if you were thin and skinny, so I’m counting this as a plus point 🙂

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