we all know that we don’t live forever and that we eventually die, but somehow we have this expectation that in death we will have something eternal, if only a plot of ground. the idea that our dead body is entitled to a spot forever and ever and ever seems weird to me – like, why the insistence on eternity, on forever, for our bodies? why in death are we suddenly supposed to have a piece of the earth all to ourselves forever? (and on a practical note, aren’t we going to run out of room?)
don’t get me wrong – i don’t think it’s respectful to disrupt a dead body, and even though i don’t connect with that sort of veneration, i respect people‘s grieving and I can understand how the idea of having a spot to call your own indefinitely can be appealing. it just seems like a lot of time and energy and money are spent on what happens to your body after you’re dead, and how sometimes people will ignore what’s good for them during life but obsess over what might be good for their body after they die.
anyway, in the episode of ask a mortician that i am embedding below, caitlin talks about oven crypts in new orleans and how the concept that your plot of land is yours forever – common in the western world – it’s just not something that happens everywhere, not even everywhere in the united states (where i live). as someone who is used to seeing sprawling lawns with headstones and people buried underground, and who has acknowledged the permanence of that particular spot for that resting body, it’s somewhat refreshing to know that not everybody in the world is so obsessed with the permanent resting spot for your body.