The Economics of Death and the Afterlife

Making a living from the dead

Ritual Mummification Revisited – Ancient Egyptian Mummies (Part 1)


Egypt is arguably the most popular among the ancient civilizations. While its rich history and singular aesthetic are enough to justify enthrallment with the Old Empire, most people seem to be less fascinated with how life was in the old kingdom than with how death was. One cannot mention Egypt without first thinking of sumptuous tombs and mummies with strangely beatific smiles stretched across taut, copper skin. While most of us are at least vaguely aware of the complex and often gruesome “hows” of the mummification process, fewer people seem to be as familiar with the “whys” of it.

Why Did Ancient Egyptians Mummify Bodies?

Continue reading “Ritual Mummification Revisited – Ancient Egyptian Mummies (Part 1)”




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”

Modern Cremation


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

rosary in hand_red

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

Continue reading “Body and Organ Donation”




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.


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


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”

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