What value is placed on a dead human body? Short of using it for research purposes or for replacing parts in living bodies, of what earthly use is it?
Why this grave subject at a time when we are threatened with the dreaded coronavirus? For good reason. Dead bodies caused by the virus are becoming a world-wide problem.
Funeral undertakers are fast running out of space for burial. Tracts of land that can be used for more practical purposes become cemeteries housing corpses – that in most cases are soon forgotten and neglected.
This is what I also find puzzling: Spending time, money (and a lot of it) and wasting land on feeding the worms. Another anomaly: most religions place emphasis on the soul, an abstract element in the human make-up totally divorced from the body. This aspect is emphasised in most of the teachings. I recall a biblical quotation that says something about (the soul) being absent from the body and present with the Lord. Instantaneously. In other words, on death the soul lives on, leaving the carcass behind.
Now if this is indeed the case, why all the fuss over the body? Special caskets costing an arm and a leg? A convoy to the cemetery led by a top-of-the range hearse and giving the dead a last ride without as much as a wave goodbye.
Why must a funeral service include a casket? By all means, mourn and pay tribute to the departed. Sympathise with the family on the passing of a loved one. Eulogise. A casket is solely a rude reminder of the locked-in corpse. Or worse still, an open coffin (for the voyeurs?).
The body has done its job, and needs to be put away.
Herein lies the rub. Put away where? The ideal way is cremation, doing away with having to keep the bodies in cold storage until the day of the funeral. For starters, think of all the land saved. A company abroad converts bodies into effective compost. Brilliant.
I would feel good knowing my body is helping to grow healthy mielies – or something more exotic, like avocados.
Coronavirus has caused me to think seriously about funerals and their negative impact on the environment. It has also compelled me to reconsider some of our traditions and cultures placing far too much emphasis on the body, instead of on the person whose spirit lives on in the lives of those left behind.
The corpse has no more say in the matter and should be treated as such. Another quotation drives home the point: "Dust to dust. . ." Finish and klaar!
The opinions expressed here are solely those of the writer and not those of Group Editors, the publisher.