10 Ways To Dispose Of A Dead Body (If You Really Needed To)

Donate your body to science

Photo: Mathew Schwartz, UnsplashPhoto: Mathew Schwartz, Unsplash

Those who wish to make a difference when they’re no longer alive may want to consider you can read more about it in our previous coverage – including how to do it and why this may (or may not) be the right choice for you.

But what happens with your body when the medical school is done with it? Typically, they cremate the remains at no cost to the individual or their family, and then return the ashes a few weeks after the donation.

3 Be A Firework

Funerals can be awfully miserable, so what better way than to cheer people up than with a fireworks display? And if you can combine the two, so much the better.

Johnny Depp started a trend when he shot the ashes of his friend, the renegade author Hunter S. Thompson, into the night sky from a gigantic cannon during the finale of a grand memorial fireworks display.

Although Thompson’s funeral was said to have cost millions of dollars, you can now get your remains shot into the sky at a more modest cost. Many funeral companies are offering to fire a portion of your remains up in rockets, or perhaps round and round in a Catherine wheel. Funeral fireworks are becoming increasingly popular, with many people choosing to go out with a bang and make a spectacular exit from their own memorial service.[8]

However, unless you have the financial resources of a mega-star, you are unlikely to get all of your remains into your fireworks. The average rocket will accommodate around a teaspoonful of ash. Even if you fire a rocket for every year of your life, you’re likely to have a fair bit left over.

You could perhaps put the remainder in a sand bucket for people to douse their sparklers.


Become a tattoo

Photo: Matheus Ferrero, UnsplashPhoto: Matheus Ferrero, Unsplash

Death is forever, and so are tattoos, so for some people, it makes sense to combine them. Some companies in the U.S. like Engrave Ink and Cremation Ink will take human ashes, mix them with tattoo ink and use it to create a personalised memorial tattoo for a lost loved one.

The technical term for these are “ritual” or “commemorative” tattoos, and though it sounds like needling another person’s ashes into your skin might not be the best move health-wise, Sandra Whitehead, M.D. the director of program and partnership development at the National Environmental Health Association, told Vice that it’s no more dangerous than non-human ink ingredients:

“There are health risks inherent in tattooing itself, regardless of the kind of ink used or other material injected under the skin. A very small amount of cremains in the ink does not, in general, present a risk, even if the deceased loved one was very sick.”

Having said that, she also noted that there have been relatively few studies conducted on the safety of tattoos using human remains and the ones that do exist are inconclusive. So your best bet for these—or any—tattoos is to pick a reputable and experienced artist.

9 Become A Diamond

Photo credit: Al Gordanza

The Victorians had a fascination with creating keepsakes from the dead and often designed and wore jewelery made from their loved ones’ hair. Luckily for us, modern science has devised more aesthetically pleasing, and less itchy, mementos. You can become a diamond.

The human body is made up of mostly water, but 18 percent of it is carbon, the same element from which diamonds are made. The diamonds are environmentally friendly since they are not mined and ethical since their creation does not use child laborers, unlike many diamond mines. And unlike a hair brooch, the diamonds can make a shiny necklace.

Carbon is extracted from the created remains and then treated under high heat and pressure, just as if it were being compressed within the Earth. However, this process only takes a few weeks to complete, after which the diamond can be cut and polished.[2]

The resulting diamonds, which have the same structure as mined ones, are often colored blue, due to trace amounts of boron, though they can also come out in other colors. And, just like human beings, all the diamonds have unique characteristics.

Disposing The Un-Dead

You might be surprised to learn that hospitals, for all their infirm residents, don’t encounter death all that often. Past the occasional gunshot victim or driver rescued from a car wreck, people tend to die either before or after the hospital has done its work, Stewart says. “And the trip from room to elevator only takes seconds to complete. There really is no need to go to great lengths to insure the modicum of discretion required to accomplish the job.”

Laura Adcock isn’t so sure. As a nursing assistant at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, in Long Island, N.Y., Adcock says she’s heard several stories of bodies, all belonging to deceased patients, make sudden noises and even move while her colleagues brought the patients down to the morgue.

“One nurse was in an elevator and bringing a body downstairs and it sat straight up in the bag,” she told Medical Daily. Fortunately for Adcock, the incident didn’t happen on her watch. “I would’ve died right there.”

The phenomenon is spooky, but not unheard of. In the hours after death, bodies still contain residual gases looking for an escape. In leaving the body, they can produce sounds that resemble moaning or breathing. Couple that with leftover nerve impulses traveling through the limbs and spinal cord, which may randomly and violently reanimate parts of the body, and a hospital could easily have an apparent zombie on its hands.

These cases are rare, but they make it decidedly more challenging for doctors and nurses to make a seamless, covert transition from life to death. Seeing a lifeless body being wheeled down the hall is eerie, but seeing a live body struggling beneath a white sheet, evidently gasping for its last breath, is downright terrifying. Good thing that tonsillectomy comes with ice cream. You’ll need the comfort.


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