Always Have an Exit Plan

This is my wedding dress.

This is also the dress that I will be buried in*.

No one wants to think of their own mortality, however the saying is true. Nothing is more constant than death and taxes… (And I’m sure the GOV will figure out how to tax the dead eventually!!) My family was very open about death when I was young, so I was always pretty cool with the fact they and I would die someday. At least in discussion. The openness about death does make things a tad bit easier when a family member departs, as there are many choices you need to make, at the most vulnerable time of your life, coupled with the possibility of running into aΒ  predatory funeral home. It was easier for me in these respects, as my Mother passed in 2006 and not only had a End of Life Plan (Living Will) and had let me know the wishes for her body after death. These choices were already made BY HER and I was only abiding by them.

I wanted to post about this, as I have a very different view on death (I’m atheist), body handling, et all… I’ve always wanted a Natural or Green Burial. In short: Dead me, hole, cover, worm food. Done. πŸ˜‰ In long, first, there is a difference in the terms natural and green burials. A natural burial can occur within a traditional cemetery, but a green burial requires a special cemetery (organic lawn and ornamental maintenance practices, in short). I’m OK with either.

The terms natural burial and green burial are often used interchangeably. Although they are similar, they are actually two different types of burial option. β€œNatural burial” strictly refers to the actually burial process. This means the opening and closing of the grave, the preparation of the remains, and the laying of those remains in the burial plot. β€œGreen burial” refers to this process but also to the cemetery in which the burial takes place. A β€œgreen cemetery” uses no artificial pesticides and none of the bodies buried in a green cemetery can have been embalmed or buried in a traditional casket.Β From The National Network of Cemeteries

I’ve found two, local cemeteries that do natural burials. In one, you can even be buried with your pet! Here’s the link to the best North American cemetery search I could find. Other lists tended to be lacking. If you are in another country, be sure to search more than one ‘cemetery list’, no one site was complete, IMO.

My full exit strategy is this:

  • If the consensus is I’m not fully there, pull the plug. Donate any good bits of me that can benefit anyone. Lastly, remember, I DO NOT want any formaldehyde put in me, so be sure to store me in a refrigerator!
  • By law in Illinois, I must use a funeral director, which the cemetery I want to rest in has on staff. As I want a natural burial, which does NOT include formaldehyde, my alternative is getting put into refrigeration. I don’t want to be viewed inside in a box. I want to be dressed in my wedding gown, wrapped in a blanket my Mother crocheted and laid in nature. Please include seasonal, native wildflowers or evergreens, in the event I die in winter.
  • After the party is over, the gown and blanket will be removed (not biodegradable) and I will be buried directly in the ground. I may have a piece of artwork made to commemorate the location, however not a traditional headstone.Β  On average, this will run about $5,500.00 (without art), much less than a traditional funeral.

I’m so happy that the times have finally caught up with my thinking!! I swear, 10 years ago, I couldn’t find anywhere offering a natural burial.

The only hiccup I can think of in my plan is that I plan to be traveling the country in my later years. This means I may croak in Arizona and need to be brought back up to Illinois. The hard part is to be sure the hospital/local mortician understands my wishes, along with state laws that may hinder my exit plan. Since it’s the ‘norm’ to be formaldehyded, maybe I should have those wishes tattooed on the bottom of my foot… Ha!!

That pretty much describes my exit plan. Do you have yours? Do you want to learn more?

All of my inspiration for this post came from a YouTube channel called, “Ask a Mortician”. Not only does Caitlin Doughty have perfect hair, she is so entertaining… considering the serious nature of the topic. I’ve already binge-watched the whole series and subscribed… Yes, I’m a fan! (A ‘Deathling’ as Caitlin calls us) I’ve learned so much from her videos, including:

Victorian folks liked to be photographed post mortem? Crazy!

If your Saint is corrupt or incorrupt. I’m not Catholic, however, it was still very interesting.

By far, the Sky Burials of Tibet are the most beautiful of burials. Your body is first seasoned, then placed on the cliffs for the vultures to devour. πŸ˜‰ Not exactly available in the States yet.

Here’s something I would have never-ever-ever thought about: Coffin birth, also known as postmortem fetal extrusion. She has a video about it.

  • This video describes how in the 1600’s, a woman’s wedding dress was often times also her death shroud.

 

Β© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

41 thoughts on “Always Have an Exit Plan

  1. An unexpected post πŸ™‚
    Still, it is good to have an exit plan sorted. I doubted there was the choice of a Natural burial over here, but google says there is – somewhere.
    There’s no way I’m gonna fit in my wedding dress ever again, but I’d like everyone to have a shot of vodka at my wake! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An interesting and thought-provoking post for first thing in the morning.
    I thought I had a good exit plan … I’m gone, it doesn’t matter what happens next to my body, I’m no longer using it … but maybe I should give it more consideration πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly… winter is a tough time for post ideas… Gotta go with what’s in my brain at the time.
      My Mother’s death was the most traumatic thing I’ve been through. Even tho we talked (and even joked) about it b4 she passed.
      I feel it was easier knowing what she wanted, rather than me having to choose. I don’t do well with lots of choices (don’t go to dinner with me, I take fu-ever to pick a meal)
      I think the biggest thing your loved ones should know, is if you want to be a donor. Steps need to be taken early to take care of that. Although my Mom was 72 (too old for organs), her corneas were still viable. πŸ‘€

      Like

    • Thank you! 😘
      Oh! I have to write our obits! How did I forget that?! 😲 So glad I’ve got you to fill in some of my MIA gaps 😁
      Considering I won’t have a headstone, I’ll want something for the archeologists to dig up about me…. Cuz, ya know, I’ll surely be famous before I croak πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • I guess since I’m am as land-locked as you can be, I never thought about a sea burial. A quick search did give show me some options for this…. So, instead of saying you’ll be worm food, you can say you’ll be Nemo food! 🐠🐟🐬🦈🐑

      Like

  3. Pretty dress. Can you have a 100% cotton slip underneath to keep on your body? Good information but I hope I fo t need it anytime soon. It’s good to have a plan. My cousin is in a green burial ground in New York State but she was buried in a shroud that remained on her body. I liked reading your post today, Ilex.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Sometimes I feel my winter topics are a bit out there πŸ˜‰ But, I like to share things I learn along my path.
      Yes! There are natural shrouds available for the actual burial. I only wanted dress/blanket for the funeral. I want to get as much use outta that $600 dress as I can πŸ˜‰ Ha ha!

      Like

        • Oh. It’s horrible! I felt the funeral industry had its problems, however after watching all of the ‘Ask a Mortician’ videos, I learned it was worse than I thought.
          I think it’s easy for unscrupulous folks to take advantage of this topic of death… No one wants to talk about it. No one seems to know the laws or options available for your corpse.
          I hope this enlightened a few πŸ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I just want to be chunked straight in the oven. No being hacked to pieces or pumped full of weird goo. Cemeteries offering those green burials give me hope my wishes will be honored. I’ve got plans for my urn having lots of jokes and stuff on it, yet at the same time I don’t care if my ashes are released into the wild. I guess whatever the kids want to do with me, so long as they don’t tip me over and vacuum me up. πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can think of at least 3 movies where an urn gets accidentally dumped…. 😐 Funny in the movies, not in real life πŸ˜‰
      I love the “jokes” adornment on your urn! At a recent funeral for a very big jokester, there was a big poster for folks to write their favorite ‘Jeff-ism’. I bet the funeral director never had a louder, laughing group of mourners!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Under the lid I’d have “shut the door, I’m naked in here!” πŸ˜›

        One of my favorite gag suggestions is to have a mysteriously closed casket service and just keep playing “pop goes the weasel” over and over, without ever playing the “pop” bit, just to freak out the attendees as they start to wonder what will happen if it’s ever played.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha ha ha! No one would be able to hear that song and not think of you πŸ˜‰ That’s great marketing!
          Although, I’ve not doing a headstone, I’ve always loved the funny ones:
          Here lies the body of Lester Moore;
          No less, no more.

          Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake; Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.

          Once I wasn’t
          Then I was
          Now I ain’t again.

          Like

  5. Right! So here am I, head buried in the sand, don’t want to think about things, hitting middle seventy and you go and tell me to wake the hell up and get an exit plan. Now I know what I’ll be doing over the Christmas break.
    AND I just worked out that I can make the snowflakes go sideways by playing with the mouse. Magic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, my friend! πŸ˜”
      Clearly, I’ve had some morbid thoughts lately. I just wanted to have this in electronic stone, just in case today is my day 😏
      My thoughts lately are about me not attending to my bucket list and I’ll have a brand new 0 on my age number in January. πŸ˜›
      Love those snowflakes! ❄❄❄

      Like

  6. Two things I don’t want to have happen when I die: I don’t want to be embalmed, and I don’t want to be buried. I don’t know what it is, but the idea of being buried just bothers me. Bury me at sea (which would be the best), burn me up, just don’t put me in the ground. Perhaps I read too many stories about people being buried alive when I was a kid. Paul is well aware that even though I don’t believe in ghosts, I will totally haunt him if he buries me.

    Liked by 1 person

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