|Bugger, that reminds me. I think I've left the oven on.|
Once breath leaves our living bodies, what next? At room temperature, without oxygen, the brain will die in six minutes. Doctors record this as the point of death. Without brain function we are no longer alive (ain't that the sad truth). Now, this is where the great mystery begins, according to some. But what happens after bodily death? For the prosaic observer the depredation and ultimate decomposition of the body is well recorded. Upon death there are two reinforcing processes. Initially, the enzymes within the cells which compose/decompose the organism become released from the cells, a process called lysis. These proteins (for it is they) dissolve tissue until they in turn are destroyed by the ultimate component of decomposition, bacteria. This is where serious degradation begins. Bacteria are an essential part of the human organism. Up to 5% of our physical mass is comprised of bacterial matter- I shit you not, ask Shagger. Not only are we devoured from within but bacteria present in our environment opportunistically devour from without. This is not the whole story. Few folk, in the civilised world, progress to this form of frank/rank decomposition. We die in bed alone or in a sanitised hospital bed, alone. And when I mean alone it doesn't mean relatives are not present. When we die we are whisked of to another place, very cold. Bacteria become subdued at low temperatures. For some, an embalming process can begin. Vitriolic infusion of formalin can keep a body 'fresh', although after a while the livid rubbery flesh and the 'catch at the throat' stink makes you gag, ask any anatomy or medical student, or geneticist for that matter.
For most, at least, the chilling is brief and infusion with environmentally unfriendly eye watering chemicals does not occur. Burn the corpse. Render the body into component parts through the medium of extreme heat. What remains in the box is crunchy ash. Most of our humanity goes up and out of the flue.
The most environmentally friendly option has always been deep burial. With time, soil organisms and bodies become one with the earth. Flesh is nibbled away leaving in a few thousand years just our teeth. Teeth are the most indestructible parts of the human body, after all. Tis sobering that our lasting legacy after death is our gnashers. Although, there are some folk in Dudley West who die toothless and hence bereft of legacy; hang our heads in indifference. Arse.
Of course you could leave your body to medical science. This is really a pragmatic and cheap option. Best suited for pragmatic and cheap atheists. Have you seen the cost of the average funeral? If you think your cold, formalin infused corpse is going to further the cure for cancer, then you have been beguiled. Your fate is to be despoiled by spotty med students. Your corpse will be dissected and subjected to tawdry off colour humour. Where is the dignity in that? You could argue that you are beyond caring, being dead an all.
This conveniently brings me back to my original conundrum- what happens after death? To my mind, absolutely nothing. I become as before life, in tune with nothingness. To think otherwise is the fevered dream bethought by a deranged madmen (surely a tautology). My point being: It is pointless to contemplate non-existence otherwise we are sure to be entangled in logical paradoxes which will cause intellectual headaches for which there is no rational nostrum.
|Our ultimate fate?|
Personally, I desire a Viking funeral. My body placed on a lusty long boat. A dead wolf at my feet (perhaps Eingar?). Surrounded by much wood, kindling, tow and pitch. Fleet burning arrows will speed my boat into the harbour. My burning pyre silhouetted against the evening sun...... No, fuck it. I leave my bod to some dozy medical student. He or she will defile my body according to whim and place bits in jars. Being dead I will not care a jot and there is the added bonus of not leaving a large funeral bill to those who loved me in life. Is there no finer epitaph?
I forgot to mention this alternative