We’re supposed to care about the world we leave behind, whether we have made it better or worse. But this is ridiculous:
Klara Tammany’s mother didn’t want a typical American funeral. No embalming, no metal casket, not even a funeral home.
When she died after a long illness a couple of years ago, family members and friends washed and dressed her body and put it in a homemade wooden casket, which was laid across two sawhorses in the dining room of her condo in Brunswick.
Then, for two days, friends and family visited, brought cut flowers, wrote messages on the casket’s lid and said goodbye.
“We had this wake, and it was wonderful,” Tammany said.
The home funeral is part of an emerging trend that some believe will change the way Americans deal with death. Send-offs like the one Tammany planned with her mother are called “green” funerals because they avoid preservative chemicals and steel and concrete tombs, all designed to keep a body from decomposing naturally.
After the wake, Tammany’s mother was cremated and her ashes buried near the family’s camp in Monmouth.
Another alternative that is just emerging in Maine is natural burial in a green cemetery: wooded graveyards that ban chemicals and caskets that won’t easily decompose.
Body in the house for a few days? Natural, yes. Connects us to the eternal we try not to think about? Check. The way it was done for a long time? You bet.
But creepy. There’s a reason we distanced ourselves from death by creating funeral homes and preservatives and postmortem cosmetics. “He looks so natural” may be superficial and insincere, but it’s still better than, “Eeuuw!”
When I go, fill my body with mercury and dump it in Lake Michigan. Deal with it, Chicago.