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Space for the Dead

I read an article today on The Guardian, which showed up on the eight page of Hacker’s News. It talks about the lack of space for the dead, in the world of the living.

“Some 55 million people are reckoned to pass away each year (about 0.8% of the planet’s total population – equivalent to 100% of England’s). Yet urban planners and developers focus overwhelmingly on accommodating and making money from the living. Cemeteries and columbaria (burial vaults) dating back hundreds of years retain an iconic place in our towns and cities – but, partly as a result of their limited profitability, most have not been allowed to grow. Which means metropolises the world over are running out of room to house their dead.”

Death in the city: what happens when all our cemeteries are full?

I know it varies from culture to culture, with religion having a major impact on how the dead is handled. I subscribe to a most pragmatic approach: incineration. My father once told me, “When I die, just cremate me and flush me down the toilet.” With the exception of the flushing—which would have created major problems for obvious reasons—we granted his wish, disposing his ashes into the sea instead. Same was done with my mother. Same will be done with me.

I would even go a step further. If I could be of better use after death, I would be all for it. A few ideas that come to mind: fertilizer, fish food, or—at the very least—as a practice/learning skeleton in a medical school. Paying money for graveyard space? Wasting valuable space in a cemetery? Not in a million years.

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