what’s the best way to “use” the remains of our loved ones?

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

A MEME MAKING THE ROUNDS on so­cial media on the in­ternet fi­nally found its way to my Face­book page. The first line is, “You come from dust, you re­turn to dust.” This is a para­phrasing of an entry from the Old Tes­ta­ment: “Re­member you are dust and to dust you shall re­turn” (Gen­esis 3:19). The next line is what makes the meme mem­o­rable: “That’s why I don’t dust—it could be someone I know.”

While this has re­ceived a few “likes” and pos­i­tive emojis, one of my friends wrote some­thing se­rious: “Some of a friend’s ashes were sprin­kled around his fa­vorite music club.” I have seen sev­eral movies where ashes were set free over a fa­vorite spot, such as the waves of an ocean. 

This caused me to ponder a bit on what’s the best way to “use” the re­mains of your loved ones who took the first step on the next journey. What fol­lows is an al­ter­na­tive method for our so­ciety to deal with those re­mains. I did not spend much time thinking this through—I just wanted to get it out there for others to read.

And ponder.


Remains: photo of a marijuane field.
An al­ter­na­tive to a fruit or­chard would be a mar­i­juana farm. This would pro­vide pot for local med­ical use or the crops could be sold and the pro­ceeds used for local char­i­ties. (Photo by Matteo Pa­ganelli for Unsplash.)

What to do with the remains

So, in­stead of the modern burial, I sug­gest that com­mu­ni­ties set aside a sec­tion of good land. There, that com­mu­ni­ty’s mem­bers are buried but without a casket. Fam­i­lies can have their loved ones “pre­pared” by a mor­ti­cian to look “good” or “normal” but without the use of any toxic chemicals.

The body would be placed in a hole with some nat­ural sub­stances (such as ground mag­ne­sium lime­stone). In this way, the re­mains would rot and act as fer­til­izer, re­turning their nu­tri­ents to the Earth from whence they came. That is, one would truly re­turn to dirt, if not quite as dust. Each per­son’s final cor­poral con­tri­bu­tion to his com­mu­nity would be to serve as fertilizer.

As each sec­tion was filled with bodies, fruit trees would then be planted in that sec­tion. Once a year, fam­i­lies of the buried person could visit the or­chard and be al­lowed to pick fruit from the trees to take with them.


Remains: photo of aa apple orchard.

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from this photo by S. Nou, which I found on Unsplash.


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