I am significantly more aware and more comfortable dealing with end of life issues than most people I know. I suppose this is due to my professional experience as a nurse and my personal experience with unexpected death. I recognized at the time and continue to believe that the biggest gift Mother ever gave her children was a clear message about what she wanted about her end of life care, organ donation, and funeral arrangements. As a result of those factors, I have given much thought to what it is I want–though I have no reason to believe it will be needed any time soon. My goals are fairly simple–I want it to be inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and easy on my family. I initially thought I wanted cremation and be scattered anywhere that seemed appropriate. However, as cremation is rising in popularity, it is also rising in cost. Studies have also begun to surface that report that it has more of a negative impact on the environment than previously thought. That led me to search further.
I may have mentioned my love for reading mysteries. I also enjoy the science of forensics–in print or on screen. I have read many books by many authors that cover the topic. One of these authors is Dr. Bill Bass and his co-author Jon Jefferson. Dr. Bill Bass is a forensic anthropologist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He started a research program now affectionately known as The Body Farm. Anything you have ever seen or read about determining time of death by insect activity was likely discovered at this facility. They also study skeletal remains–learning every day a bit more about how to establish identity and cause of death with less and less to work with. By studying the chemical makeup of bones, investigators can identify the region of the country a person lived as a child. This knowledge can assist grieving families in gaining closure years after a death.
As you have likely guessed by now, this is where I wish to go after I die. It fits my love of science, my passion for mysteries, and my desire to help others. It is certainly ecologically sound–natural as possible. It costs nothing to donate one’s body to the facility. So, I was all set, right? Well, not quite. The one thing that would need to be addressed was the transportation. UT will pick you up in you live less than 200 miles from the facility (I don’t) and live in Tennessee (also not me). During initial calls to funeral homes, I was given the inaccurate information, “embalming is required by law to transport across state lines.” This is true in some states, but not in Georgia.
I was discussing this with a friend, and she said, “So all I need to do is get you to Tennessee and they will pick you up?” She was certain she could find a friend with a truck and “meet them in Chattanooga.” I appreciated her offer, but I had some concerns about the details. “So, you think it is a good idea to meet at the Hardee’s parking lot and change vehicles? I have concerns that you moving something that not only looks like a dead body, but actually is a dead body might attract some attention.” She reaffirms her willingness, but I decide exploring other options is probably a good idea.
So this week I made a few more phone calls. I got a few more erroneous reports, but finally hit paydirt. I found a company who will take me to Knoxville for under $650. Now all I need is to type up the information and leave it with my sister. It will require a single phone call to carry out my wishes, and that gives me a bit of peace. Have any of you given any thought to what you want and how to get it? Or does this just reaffirm (understandably) that I do not think at all like *normal* people?