The Good Funeral Guide Blog

11 comments on “Something to dispel the gloom

  1. Sonya

    Wednesday 15th December 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks your responce Rupert and Gloria. Not wanting to sound morbid but we (the mainstrem public) shoud all see more corpses. There was a vid posted on here somewhere where a professional make up artist was showing his craft on a plastic mask that was black in places but I recognise now that he was just taking an extreme. I guess i got the wrong end of the stick. He did do a fab job I thought, technically. Still, all that’s visual. I suppose there is a matter of odor aswell?

  2. Wednesday 15th December 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Rupert’s point about emotional dissonance and feeling what you already know seems to me so important. Without this, in whatever form it comes, some people at least seem, by reports, to feel they are left hanging.

  3. Wednesday 15th December 2010 at 10:42 am

    It is very difficult to say what a body will do in terms of rapid decay, it is dependent on what illness they have died of, and what drugs and radiotherapy they have been treated with. Most bodies are remarkably benign as long as they are kept cool. With decent refrigeration it is absolutely possible to keep a body relatively unchanged in its appearance for two weeks. It is here that we have a difference of opinion with embalmers as to what is acceptable for a family to be exposed to. Discolouration of the skin is subtle, it usually amounts to a nothing more than a mottled appearence, the eyes sink, the skin becomes waxen in appearence and is what all of us expect to see when confronted with a dead body. If this fundamental truth is what you are hoping to convey, then it works. The emotional dissonace created by someone’s death can be extreme. You know it, but you don’t *know* it. Seeing somebody dead, naturally, confirms to your heart what your head already knows.

  4. Wednesday 15th December 2010 at 10:29 am

    Re wolfstones, precisely. But I think I favour family wolfstones. More personal, less municipal. Inscribed at each death they can be passed down the generations and become part of family history.

  5. Wednesday 15th December 2010 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for the info, very helpful. 2.5 feet still a bit deep for compost, I guess, but a lot better than 6 feet. (Unless of course you want to busy Mrs on top of Mr, rather than mooring her alongside?)Point about cold clay noted.

    Wolfstones could indeed be used and re-used; could be owned by the community and passed along to the next leasee with suitable ritual?

  6. Tuesday 14th December 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Whoops, meant to say. No. And those chary of being dug up could be leased a wolfstone til they were friable. Only found out about wolfstones the other day. Here:

  7. Jonathan

    Tuesday 14th December 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Does the 2’6″ rule apply to privately owned burial grounds?

  8. Tuesday 14th December 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Official govt regs for burial require the coffin to be covered in 2′ 6″ of earth, or 2′ where soil conditions allow. Of course, soil conditions are all important. If you bury someone in cold, sullen clay they’ll hang around for ages.

    I’ve asked Rupert to tell us more about discolouration of the body, and I hope he’ll have a few mins spare to do that. Stand by, please, Sonya!

  9. Tuesday 14th December 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Good stuff. I wonder if many of us realise that a 6 foot deep burial results in methane and sludge? I think many of us think we turn into something like that chap’s lovely compost – certainly the person with whom I was discussing such matters yesterday thought so.

    I think the answers to Sonya’s questions are all to be found the the mighty Good Funeral Guide, though the travel speed necessary to save the family from freezing might depend on the stoicism of said family – in this weather here today, anything longer than a couple of hours would be worth a good grumble.

    The whole six feet under thing is bloody nonsense, surely? And I believe it’s not legally required in any case.

  10. Sonya

    Tuesday 14th December 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Yes, good clip Charles.
    Before reading this marvelous blog I always thought that all this organic food I’m eating will one day turn me into valuable nutrigents for the soil or soil itself- and then I found out about the embalming proceidure! Quite a shock!
    I would prefere not to poison the earth.
    So how long do we have until the body discolores? How quickly must family travel if they wish to say goodbye to a corpse considering the heating is turned off?

  11. Jonathan

    Tuesday 14th December 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I’d hazard a guess it’s our squeamishness and selective blindness that makes us prefer being turned into sludge and methane in a grave to being ground up and put in a wheelbarrow and made good use of, freeing up valuable land for our own bodies to contribute nourishment to.

    It’s not legislation that’ll change things, it’s opening our eyes and stopping squeaming.

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