Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Beautiful DEATH Rituals (video)

CC Liu, Seth Auberon, Crystal Quintero, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; Caitlin Doughty (; Nina Porzucki, The World (, Feb. 10, 2015)
Caitlin Doughty and puppy answer everything about death when you "Ask A Mortician."

No rest for the wicked. The Reaper wears dead bunny slippers and sips killer dark coffee.

Death becomes her. American Caitlin Doughty won’t deny that.  She’s a mortician, author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, and a YouTube celeb.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Her Web series, “Ask a Mortician,” has gotten hundreds of thousands of hits. She answers questions about death from people from all around the world.
“People, especially in America
  • They want to know why they don’t have more death options;
  • They want to know why they can’t keep a skull on their mantle;
  • They want to know why they can’t be taxidermied;
  • They want to know why they can’t have Viking funerals,” Doughty says.
And she answers all of their questions from the very ordinary to the more out there. Here are just two.
Q: Is it true that they have to grind up the bones after cremating a body? A: Yes. After cremation you’re left with fragments of the inorganic skeleton. The bones are brittle, but you still need to grind them down. You crush them in a cremulator or a processor, which turns them into ash.

Q: Is there such thing as “dying of natural causes?” A: Technically, no. You can’t write on the death certificate that someone “died of natural causes.” Normally what gets put on a death certificate of someone who died in their sleep or of old age is “cardio-respiratory-arrest” -- basically that their heart stopped.
When Doughty isn’t answering questions online or busy at her funeral home, Undertaking LA, she’s advocating for a nationwide conversation about this inevitable part of our lives.

(Ask A Mortician) Traditional versus Natural Burial with Caitlin Doughty

“Because we have this very regimented, very sterile view of death in America, we want so much more than we’re getting," Doughty says. "We don’t understand why we can’t have it."
To start that conversation, she gathered together death experts from scientists to morticians to professors in a group called “The Order of the Good Dead.”
US War: The Killing Fields of Cambodia
“We think that when people are more comfortable with just the concept of death, in general, or more comfortable with what’s being done with the dead body, the more comfortable they can be going up to their mother and saying: ‘Hey mom, I know you have pancreatic cancer, but I have no idea what you want done with your body or your estate or how you want to die,’” Doughty explains.

Death [in America and the Western world in general] hasn't always been so regimented.
“Around the 1930s, death was taken out of the hands of people and put into the hands of [business] professionals, both the medical industry and the funeral industry," Doughty says.
"In some ways, that’s a wonderful thing. No one should say that there should be no medical intervention of any kind. But at the same time that means that we don’t have the same connection to death that we used to. Dying used to happen in the home, death used to happen in the home, the wake used to happen in the home. Now that’s taken out into institutions."
Doughty says we can learn a lot about our attitudes toward death by looking at how we respond to death rituals and customs around the world.
  • Kandy, Sri Lanka (CapoVincent/flickr)
    (Wisdom Quarterly) "THE GRATEFUL DEAD": A good Theravada Buddhist death ritual is a practice to help the departed called pinkamma (punya-karma). It is still alive and well in Sri Lanka and in Sinhalese temples in the U.S. It is the ritual of "transferring merit" to the departed by performing good karma (merit) and sharing it with the departed. Water is poured into a cup while monastics chant, and as the extra water spills over, merit goes to the departed. When they "receive" it, or when any relative does extending out for seven generations according to the Buddha, they by approving of the gift make karma they cannot make in the world of hungry ghosts. They are appeased, the doers generate good karma, and everyone wins. It's easy. Ask a monk at a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple in the U.S. about it or on the island.
A journey through the Intermediate State in Vajrayana Buddhism.
Tibetan "Sky" Burial
I'll eat them! Cut them up into my borscht.
For example, there are many cultures that leave the body out to be eaten by animals. In Tibet, bodies are [chopped up, mixed with barley flour, and] set out on an open hill for vultures to eat.
“[Tibetans] have very sensible reasons for it. But because we don’t do that in the United States, we have this visceral reaction to it. But most countries find what we do, which is [chemical plasticizing or] embalming, to be very offensive and very bizarre and grotesque in its own way,” Doughty says. 
Dealing with loss (Pink Floyd)
[Why do we keep the dead body from returning to the Earth and the elements from which the living body came? Karma goes on. The process-of-consciousness continues. Rebirth (again becoming) takes place. It is because the funeral industry wants to make money and more money, and what better way than open casket funeral with expensive ornamentation, $4,000 casket to be thrown in a dirt hole, a big pity-party, flowers, catering, and before you know it, it costs more to die than to just stay alive a few more years.]

Doughty says she would be open to her body being eaten by vultures, or any animals, after she dies. [We at Wisdom Quarterly would, too, particularly as fertilizer for cows in a pasture for all the sad cow death we were once involved in while alive, you know, hamburgers and condensed flesh.]
“I am an animal. We are all animals. And when we have a sense of ourselves as much higher than animals -- that can wreak so much havoc on our sense of place in the world, and our sense of our place in the environment,” she adds.
The Green Burial Movement makes a lot of sense to preserve this special planet.
I'm still alive, just thinking. Keep it green!
There’s no place in the U.S. where you can currently have that sort of burial -- but there is a growing green burial movement in the U.S.

GREEN burial involves being buried without embalming and without a casket, directly into a hole in the Earth to decompose naturally.
“If there’s no vultures available, what I would like is just a green burial: hole in the ground, my body straight in, back to the Earth,” Doughty says. More

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