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The Economics of Death and the Afterlife

Making a living from the dead

Cryonics

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The quest for immortality has obsessed human beings for millenniums. We’ve concocted countless tales and myths about holy grails, mermaid flesh, or fountains of youth capable of bestowing everlasting life to the brave, clever or virtuous. This singular focus also appears in our religious doctrines, which seem to be devised with the sole purpose of assuaging death anxiety. This fact is reflected in the way most of our mortuary rituals involve extending our existence—in the afterlife, if not here on earth. Of course, secular society is not excluded from having lofty dreams of eternal life. Continue reading “Cryonics”

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Modern Cremation

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After a long absence, I have returned to regale the living with more facts about the dead. My grandmother recently passed away after a very short struggle with a very aggressive cancer. She was a wonderful person and her absence will be felt for a very long time. The ceremony was a much more informal version of the one described in my last post. Furthermore, instead of being buried, my grandmother wanted to be cremated. As a tribute to her, today I will explore one of the most popular means of laying a loved one to rest: cremation.

Continue reading “Modern Cremation”

Ecclesiastical Funeral Rites

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As of now, we have mostly explored funeral practices that are very different from what most would considered the “norm”—at least in Canada. To better illustrate this divide, I thought it could be interesting to take a step back and look at what characterizes ecclesiastical rites in North America. Although this may seem obvious to those of you who have been to their fair share of wakes, it is nonetheless important to define its components.

Continue reading “Ecclesiastical Funeral Rites”

Bog Bodies

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Tollund Man: Found in 1950 near Tollund, Silkebjorg, Denmark. He is over 2000-years-old.
Source: Sven Rosborn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

bog body

“any of a number of preserved human bodies found in sphagnum bogs in Northern Europe, Britain, and Ireland.”

synonym: bog person

Source: Dictionary.com

homme des tourbières

“..momies “naturelles”, découvertes dans les tourbières du nord de l’Europe.”

Source: Maxisciences. 

Continue reading “Bog Bodies”

“The Economics of Death and the Afterlife” Still Holds on to Dear Life

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All things in life must eventually come to an end, the terminology class that inspired this blog included. Although I am no longer strictly obligated to ever update this blog again, I have found the whole process to be highly enjoyable, and I plan to continue exploring various death rituals throughout the world. I also have plenty of puns on death to go through. Where else am I going to get the opportunity to use them? The economic aspects will no longer be within my purview, however, which is why I have removed the economic definitions that were required as part of the course. I hope you will continue to stare into the abyss alongside me.

Body and Organ Donation

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body donation

the contribution of a person’s whole body after death to a facility for educational or research purposes.

synonyms: anatomical donation, body bequest, willed body

Source:
Mueller, Dean A. “What anatomical donation? Why do families request it?” University of Michigan Medical School. Aug. 1999. Accessed Apr 5. 2015. 


don du corps

“Acte par lequel une personne lègue son corps à une faculté de médecine pour que celle-ci puisse l’utiliser soit aux fins de recherches anatomiques, médicales ou chirurgicales, soit pour l’enseignement de l’anatomie, soit par les chirurgiens désirant répéter une opération difficile.”

synonymes: don de corps, donation de corps

Source:
“don du corps.” Le grand dictionnaire terminologique. OQLF. 1998. Accessed Apr 05. 2015.

Continue reading “Body and Organ Donation”

Promession

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promession

a method of burying human remains which involves turning the cadaver into compost through the use of cryogenic freezing, vibration, and freeze-drying and inserting the powdered remains in a biodegradable casket which is then shallowly buried in living soil.

Source: Wiigh-Mäsak, Suzanne. Promessa. Accessed Apr 4. 2015.


promession

méthode de disposition de cadavre qui consiste à la désintégration du corps en le plogeant dans de d’azote liquide puis en le posant sur une table vibrante.

Source: “La promession, des funérailles écologiques” AlloLeCiel. Accessed Apr 03. 2015

Continue reading “Promession”

Innovation in the Death Care Industry

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Organ Transplant

Although death is usually associated with a life ending, new technologies can now use death in order to save or improve lives. This is done through organ transplant, and body donation is a key part of the process. Technologies in the field are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and the number of organs that can be transplanted grows every day. In fact, the day before class I had come across a news article announcing the first successful penis transplant. The procedure was not only novel from a medical standpoint alone, but also from an ethical one as the excerpt from this article shows:

Continue reading “Innovation in the Death Care Industry”

Post-Mortem Photography

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Note: The above image is probably not a post-mortem photograph.

A recent comment on a previous post had me thinking about the many different trends that have occurred in the history of people grieving loved ones. The poster in question mentioned how creepy open-casket visitations were, and it reminded me how much our perception of what is and isn’t creepy has changed throughout the centuries. It also reminded me of a memorial product that is no longer in vogue, and that would surely upset our modern sensibilities: post-mortem photography.
Continue reading “Post-Mortem Photography”

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