Ten Best: Things to do with your corpse

by the YES! staff

Viking style

Amy Kingsley, staff writer

The Vikings knew a little something about going out in style. Contrary to popular belief, they usually cremated their dead inside a boat on dry land – not at sea. Still, it’s pretty cool. But I’d like to up the ante. Gather the resulting ashes and pack them into fireworks, then send me into oblivion in a blaze of pyrotechnic glory. I’ve witnessed a variation on this, so I know it can be done.

Do like Coco Robichaux says

Brian Clarey, editor

From “Burn My Bones”:

When I die, burn my body.

Don’t you dare put it in the ground.

Throw my ashes on the water,

Let the Mississippi River take me down.

Also, a jazz funeral procession would be nice.


Chris Lowrance, creative assistant

Are you depressed by the sudden terrified realization that everything about your American lifestyle is bringing the world closer to its doom? This won’t cheer you up in the slightest: Even your rotting corpse is bad for the environment. To be fair, it’s not your corpse so much as everything we do to it. We pump it full of toxic chemicals to keep it pretty, put it in a material-wasting chemical-filled box and plop it into precious real estate that we’ll waste energy and dump more chemicals onto keep green and growing. Think cremation is better? When is burning something ever better for the environment? There are tons of green burial options, including embalming-free cemeteries and special chemical free coffins. But my choice, if I had the cash? I’d be cryogenically frozen in a vat of liquid nitrogen, then shattered with sonic waves. I’m not making this up. It’s called promession, and if it’s a good enough death for supervillians, it’s good enough for me.

Quick and in the dirt

Jordan Green, news editor

I try to preoccupy myself more with my so-called life than what should happen to my body when its spirit escapes, so I haven’t given this much thought. At first blush, however, I guess I would follow in the tradition of my father and at least one other contemporary buried in the hippie corner of the Monterey Cemetery in Kentucky. My dad dug graves for a living at a certain period of his life, and came to view embalming as something of an unnatural intercession. When my dad died in a tractor accident in 1992, we commissioned a pine box, washed his body, set it out at our neighbors’ house where we held the wake, and put him in the ground the next day. Another friend, if I recall correctly, was lowered into the ground in a shroud, and an apple tree was planted atop the grave. Don’t dress up grief: Set the body out, have a party and bury the lifeless artifact.

Assisting CSI

Chris Lowrance, creative assistant

A few miles from downtown Knoxville, Tenn. is a curious acre of land. Surrounded by razor-wire fence, the property is owned by the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology department. It’s affectionately known as “the Body Farm.” I wouldn’t visit on a warm day. If I couldn’t be frozen (see “Promession”), I’d donate myself to one of the nation’s many “body farms,” possibly even the one at Western North Carolina University. Essentially, they are facilities where common crime scenes are recreated. Bodies are buried, locked in trucks, submerged in water, stuffed in bags – if you can imagine it being done to a body, they do it. The purpose is to learn; by studying how bodies decay in a variety of circumstances, researchers learn how to determine a time and cause of death when real victims are discovered. The research can and has put killers away, and I can’t think of a more noble use for my dead meat.


Amy Kingsley, staff writer

My boyfriend doesn’t like to talk about death. Or joke about it, or even think about it. It sends him into an anxious tizzy. He’s already said he’d like to be cryogenically frozen – because, you know, storing your corpse in a tube for hundreds of years is going to make you somehow less mortal.

Borg being

Kenny Lindsay, graphic designer

I like the idea of being modified with robotic and mechanical parts and being used as a new biological machine/military weapons experiment. Kinda like a Borg from “Star Trek,” except not so pale. Hopefully the experiment goes terribly wrong as my soul returns to my body and I turn on my creators, hell bent on revenge for what they have done to me, even though I signed a waiver. I complete my mission and destroy my foes. My super computer brain chip enables me a way to infinitely travel space and I’m off to discover new planets and mate with satellites. If all this for some strange reason doesn’t come to pass, I’ll stick with cremation.

Death of Gram Parsons

Jordan Green, news editor

From The Byrd Watcher website: When country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons died of an overdose of liquor, heroin and morphine at Joshua Tree, Calif. in 1973, his estranged stepfather made arrangements for him to be buried in Louisiana. Phil Kaufman, the artist’s manager was distraught: He knew Parsons hadn’t wanted “a long, depressing religious service.” The two had made a pact that whoever died first, the survivor would take the other’s body to Joshua Tree, douse it with gasoline and have a few drinks. Kaufman and a friend did just this, intercepting the corpse at the Los Angeles airport. To pay his fine for misdemeanor theft, Kaufman threw a benefit party for himself, enlisting the talent of Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt Kickers, who recorded the unforgettable “Monster Mash.”

Death? What death?

Amy Kingsley, staff writer

Have you ever heard of calorie reduction? You can extend your life by several years by cutting the recommended caloric intake by 30 percent. By then, scientists should have found a cure for this whole death thing.

Organ donor

Michelle Lanteri, marketing executive

I hope to pass on very suddenly at home, comfortably in my sleep while I’m dreaming about something very pleasant, like swimming in the ocean. Then, I hope to be found by someone that is acquainted with my post-mortem wishes and will gladly send my organs to be donated, and then cremate my remains, which will be sprinkled upon the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterways of my hometown, Boynton Beach, Florida. I want to return to the Earth as my ancestors have been, and contribute to the richness of our soils. Sounds cheesy, perhaps, but I feel this is purest way to go out of the current life, and hope for another interesting journey in the next one.