It is quiet, in late Summer afternoon at Tea at Tympani Lane Records. I am giving a Summer Poetry Reading Series in the Joliette
Metro this Summer 2016, my paperback books are available for about half the cost of Amazon Station. Please watch for Announcements.
The days are quiet in sunshine, the poetry writes . . .
Alternative/Holistic/Inexpensive/Elegant Funeral Arrangements
"Jazz came out of New Orleans, and that was the forerunner of everything. You mix jazz with European rhythms, and that's rock n' roll, really. You can make the argument that it all started on the streets of New Orleans with the jazz funerals."
- The Edge (Musician/Songwriter with U2)
"The biggest problem is the funerals that don't exist. People call the funeral home, they pick up the body, they mail the ashes to you, no grief, no happiness, no remembrance, no nothing. That happens more often than it doesn't in the United States."
- Caitlin Doughty (Author, Mortician)
As the economy morphs into the new mode of Computerized, bottom lines are out, as the shape of businesses and the social
economy change becoming streamlined, there appears to be less work. The traditional service jobs are still there, infrastructure
and public service jobs and there is an entrepreneurial drive, to work over the Internet. However it seems to be difficult to be
consistently successful as an entrepreneur in the online arts economy.
With less monies in the hands of the people, some essential and not so essential services become expensive. Getting health insurance, renting a good place that is well looked after, owning a car, vet services, alternative health care, aesthetics like massage and pedicure, funerals, these essential services can become very expensive. Extras like eating in restaurants, going to first run movies, seeing a concert, going to see performance art or a gallery showing, going to a museum all become expensive when in fact they could be a monthly occurrence. When these basic services go off the table for a vast majority of people it creates less monies in the hands of the producers, less monies in the economy causes it to slow down and the economy erodes. (Bankruptcy statistics in the United States for individuals are down about 50% in 2016 since 2012 and bankruptcy statistics for businesses are down by about 1/3 in 2016 since 2012* perhaps the online economy is going to swing in) the good thing about computerized businesses there is not a lot of overhead). And it creates a call for alternatives that are economic, ecological and elegant.
Reading the Internet I found an article on developments in the funeral industry. One of the “green” alternatives was to have the body of the deceased chemically decomposed and then flushed into the sewer system. I found this rather insulting. a. there is no marker for the person, no place to mark his passing for descendants to bring flowers/gifts. b. it is an insult to be mixed with the sewage. No one wants to think of themselves as green sludge and no one wants to think of their nearest and dearest as green sludge in the sewer system. c. I don’t think it would be healthy for the drinking water.
As if people haven’t been hurt and disrespected enough in life to be flushed down the toilet at their passing. Just shite, another shite invention from the lab, without due care for ritual or sanitation or the mending of the social fabric. Something easy and cost effective, that no one has to worry about too much, about as much care and thought as the deceased had in life I suspect.
The body of the deceased is a husk, the soul is not there anymore, it is important that what happens to the body is ecologically sound, so disease is not spread, a promotion of ecologic green spaces. Friends, family, descendants might like to know who their ancestors were, their stories and perhaps visit their gravesite and leave flowers and prayers. It is important to remember and honour those who have gone before, it is good karma.
I lived in a very inexpensive Hoboken apartment for awhile and one of the tenants died. I don’t know if he had any family or if there was anyone to bury him. I hadn’t seen him for awhile so I knocked on his door only to find a new tenant living in his place. The new tennant had taken the man’s furniture and his posessions to the Sally Anne and the town dump and then moved in. I was quite taken aback and very surprised that there was not at least a service of some kind, even a meeting of people in the building, plus his friends/family to say a few words to mark his passage.
Who wants to live in a blank verse society where suddenly someone is not there anymore, they are just disparu? Suddenly the person is not at his place at table, not around for coffee, not performing anymore. And their passing wasn’t marked properly. Like revolving lovers, friends, people walking away, a loss of family, leaving you alone in a room working. A sign of a very broken and profoundly sick society. A society of the disposessed. As if the warehousing of people, valuing people as sex and monies, people as disembodied vehicles, a means to an end, a hold over from the Old Society.
An age old practice from Ancient times is the use of cremation. In the times of the Vikings, the bodies of dead Kings were put on a bier, set alight and turned loose on the ocean. In the times of the Battle of Troy, the dead bodies of the fallen soldiers were set alight in the town square in a public ritual.
Cremation is clean, so there is no disease from rotting bodies and a warm thought on a cold day. Instead of a wooden coffin – wrap the body in some cotton cloth and maybe put in a cardboard coffin. Then the body is cremated. Then the person looking after service arrangements takes your favourite urn (doesn't have to be real fancy, something with a lid, Dollarama was selling Chinese ceramic ginger jars with clasp lids for $2, it might have to be a bit bigger than these jars to hold all the ashes but doesn’t have to be extraordinarily expensive) and get the loved one's ashes at the crematorium. You can usually get a marble block to hold the ashes but they are very expensive. Instead of using marble what about making a hollow thick ceramic block, in the Loved One’s favourite colour decorated with flowers or designs complementary to his/her soul colours and personality. The decoration should be seminal, very ornate or very simple, elegant and beautiful.
And there should be a celebration of the departed friend/lovers life. Invite his friends and family around for a celebration of his/her life. People tell their favourite memories, a eulogy, read some poetry, have some food, maybe music, dancing and fireworks. The memorial party could be a pot luck. And the celebration doesn't have to be in a church, you could hold the celebration in a forest, in a parc or by the water.
Post a public notice announcing the time/place of the celebration of the passing on Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus if you want company or just for select people. A public death notice is good so people know the poem has passed, online or in the newspaper. After the cremated body is collected in the urn, have the urn at the memorial celebration and maybe after the ceremony of celebration, people have the option of attending the final placing of the ashes. Sometimes the ashes are blown to the wind at favourite places, over water, at a favourite parc with prayers. Sometimes the urn rests on the mantlepiece or in a public mausoleum. Another new development and a favourite, is having the ashes buried under a tree, perhaps in a forest, if the tree eventually dies there is another one growing, it promotes green spaces. Then when people can get enough monies together for a plaque or a marker, doesn’t have to be a big headstone, maybe a bronze plaque, put it up to mark the spot. There should probably be a record somewhere of where this person is buried, for people researching their ancestors, future family or friends. If ashes are scattered to the wind, plant a tree or a patch of their favourite flowers, with a plaque so people have some idea of this person’s journey. Once people have died, their voice becomes silent. It is good to remember them in some way.
There is also a movement to return the deceased back to the earth as naturally as possible, without embalming or cremation. This procedure is less expensive both economically and to the ecology. The person can be buried in a simple biodegradable sac and buried in a green space under a tree. This trend began in the U.K. about 20 years ago and is growing in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and worldwide. “A "natural burial" reflects the desire for something simpler, something less 'wasteful' of time, money and natural resources. At its core, it cries out for the body's physical return to the earth, without barriers or inhibitions . . . A "clean death" is as real as our hunger for sunlight in winter and clean cool water in summer. And it frames something frightening - our own mortality - with something that is real enough to ground us in the inevitible, and yet beautiful enough to actually bear. "It" is "natural" and there's a peace to be found in that.”**
“What counts as “natural”? A natural burial is the act of returning a body as naturally as possible to the earth. To achieve this, we recommend that the body not be embalmed or cremated, but instead buried in a simple casket or shroud, in a protected green space. Making the choice for natural burial means you are choosing a low impact burial. It is a choice that reduces energy and resource consumption, and one that is less toxic. In addition it ensures the land cannot be used for any other purpose therefore protecting these wild spaces from becoming a subdivision or quarry.
Are there headstones? Many choose not to have any marker at all, but some prefer a marker, to memorialize the deceased. As Christopher Wren (1632 – 1723), the architect of many of London’s great landmarks wrote, “If you want to see my monument, look around you!” Natural Burial grounds only contain natural markers that don’t intrude on the landscape. These natural markers can include shrubs and trees, or a flat indigenous stone, which may be engraved. As in all cemeteries, there are careful records kept of every interment, and mapped with a GIS (geographic information system).”***
The movement for ecological funerals are similar to funeral procedures before embalming, less expensive, less toxic. Sometimes the body is put into a fetal position in a biodegradeable sac. And when trees or flowers as well as a stone are used as markers there is a promotion of green spaces. There is a really good feeling about going back to the earth naturally in a green space forest.
*March 2016 Bankruptcy Filings Down 8.5 Percent. United States Courts. 2016.
**Beal, C.A. Be a Tree; the Natural Burial Guide for Turning Yourself into a Forest. 2016.
***Natural Burial Association. 2016.