Friday, May 21, 2010

Burying Your Own Family Members: Do It Yourself?

I saw this documentary on instant watch on Netflix and it was fascinating. I was both horrified and very sad and also comforted at the same time. By the time it was done, my typical American fear of dead bodies and dealing with death was gone.

“A Family Undertaking: POV” is an amazing PBS documentary that shows how even today family members can and do opt to do a loving funeral themselves, sometimes involving the dying person in the details of their homemade casket and such. The process is watched with people who are dying and their funeral by their family members. It’s very intimate and very strange and surreal, but also in the end very loving and almost joyous.


  1. I've given the missus explicit instructions on how to deal with my remains. Nothing fancy, just a simple procedure involving a chainsaw and the septic tank.
    I'm totally serious.

  2. I'll look for that one. I had no idea you could bury your own dead.

  3. BG: I gotta admit, there's a few relatives I might have put in there while they were still kicking and screaming (that's another story)... I'm giving away my organs and being cremated with the ashes divided between loved ones and friends to decide what to do with them that is symbolic for them. I wanted a viking funeral--put me on a boat and light it up, but I don't think they're allowed anymore...Damn!

    Yeah, it's really an amazingly therapeutic thing to watch. I felt a sudden weight lifted about the whole process which is usually kept clinically away from us.

  4. I can see how that would be both harder to deal with emotionally, and yet, much more intimate and fulfilling afterward.

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  6. Oh yeah, I've seen this documentary...I really enjoyed it. Although I do not want to be buried, I do wish death could be more intimate than it is nowadays.

  7. Gummer, LOL.....I just want to be cremated but not sure where I want my ashes scattered as of yet. Some place beautiful and serene.

  8. I want to be cremated and my ashes mixing with my Golden Retriever "Maddie"'s ashes...that dog saved my life a couple of different times and I want to be with her again and forever.
    I also want our ashes to be thrown into the wind at some beautiful location on a cool October day.

  9. Cindi;
    I like yours. I was going to give my son my ashes but have some of them put into little decorative necklace vials and let some choice people either keep them or find a place that meant a lot to us as friends and spread them there... I might be all over the place by the time they're done.

  10. I think dead bodies are way less scary/creepy when you know the person. And, I think it would be a very powerful step in the grieving process to be able to bury your own dead. Kind of makes denial impossible and you definately get a chance to say your goodbyes in an intimate way. I think our culture shelters people too much from death.

  11. Heather;
    That's so true. I hadn't been around it before, but when my dad died when I was 16, they left him in the hospital room without the machines. Looked like he was asleep. I didn't know he was dead, so I got very upset when I found out he was. When my mother was dying at home (her decision), us siblings decided it was time to turn off the oxygen and let her go and I had to leave the house. I couldn't see her take the last breath. I had a feeling that, as a psychic, I would somehow be attached to her soul. It was ludicrous but at the time, I couldn't see her stop breathing. I think had the hospital told us my father was dead already, I would have been ready. The whole thing was so removed that it jarred my reality. This way does seem to make a lot of sense, even if it gets people talking about their wishes.

  12. I want the kids to be able to bury me in a cardboard box (very biodegradable), but I think there are only a couple of states where it is legal to do so, so I'll probably donate any usable organs and be cremated. Fun fun fun!

    If I had a cardboard coffin, they could color on it in marker...maybe something that reminds them of me.

  13. I checked some of this stuff out years ago. Alabama was still good with the do it yourself, home stuff.

    Mother died here at the house last year... but under the circumstances I didn't deal with it. She wanted to be creamated anyway... so she is still here, in a box in her room.

    I have lived a day to day existance with my son's "death" since 1992. Him, I'll do myself, at home.

    Me, I just want to be thrown in the woods with some lime thrown over me. In this tropical heat, humidity and bugs... I would disappear in about three days.

    Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

  14. @eloh;
    You sure you want to do that to the critters in the forest? Hee hee. Given your issues with your neighbors, you might want to be hidden under their porch on a hot day... hee hee

    Yeah, I know what you mean. How the body is disposed of is not so important, just that you left an impression on others--that's what keeps you still in existence every day after your gone, people thinking of you and smiling.

    I'm giving away my organs. When my brother died, we got a letter from a woman in Greece who got her vision back because of his corneas, his heart valves went to another, his skin to a burn victim... That is really the most ultimate last gift.