Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

So, let’s see. Your child was murdered by a madman, your spouse, your brother, sister, parent, grandparent. You have every right to feel miserable, depressed, angry. The President attends a memorial event and gives an uplifting speech, leaving people clapping and cheering. How dare he hold a “pep rally!” How disrespectful! We all know the best thing for these folks is… more misery?

The events in Tucson have been commented on by far too many people: both sides. I’m sure you’re tired of everyone blathering about it. So now I ask you to read one more bland piece of blather?

Well, there’s a side to this no one else seems to be commenting on…

…the America take on death and how we deal with it. Having worked in cemeteries for about 5 years, and been to one too many funerals, nothing sickens me more. Commentators who insist that such things must be somber are not only giving the wrong advice, but adding to the collective depression of those who have lost a loved one. For Christ’s sake, what do these tongue waggers want, that we hire professional mourners that throw themselves on the graves in fits of fake tears, or that everyone, including parents, be more miserable than they already are?

You almost never read the single word I’m about to type in an edition of Inspection. But there’s no other way to put it what I have no respect for…


Of course this, in part, wasn’t really about the laughter, the applause. Anyone with a smidge of sense will tell you they were going to find something to bitch about. If it had been George Bush, Jr., giving the same speech under the same circumstances, they would be applauding and cheering with the rest of them.

If anyone has any doubt now, they too are idiots. Some on the Right haven’t one ounce of shame. They will say and do anything, while lecturing others not to behave that way.

But what about the deeper question about how we treat our dead? We fill them with poison, lock them away from natural decay for a long, long time, inside expensive coffins and outer boxes. I saw one being lowered years ago: silver plated with gold trim handles. I’m sure whomever bought that would think it sick if someone suggested we just let nature take its course.

There is still a pond in the second cemetery I used to work at in Utica, NY, at the top of the hill. You can smell it far away: formaldehyde. So eventually it leaks out and we… “honor…” our… dead…. by poisoning our soil and our water supply? By the time normal decay would have reached that water the soil would have filtered it. And plants grow off natural decay before it gets there. Formaldehyde? Poison: either way.

And to top it off you want to make damn sure all of us are even more miserable?

Excuse me if I don’t stand by that farce. Maybe you want company, or just to make everyone more miserable, but no one should have to join you in either.


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

© Copyright 2011
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved

By Ken Carman

Retired entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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RS Janes
13 years ago

Shameless idiots is right. As Bartcop might say, most of these burial rituals are nothing more than religious insanity. In some Sunday schools I attended as a boy they taught that when Jesus returned, all the dead would come back to life, so that’s why the corpse had to be preserved in a casket. (Whew — zombie Christians.) It never occurred to them that with their veins filled with formaldehyde, not only would the dead stink, but they might not return exactly as their loved ones remembered them. (Of course, there’s always the chance of a ‘miracle’ that would return grandpa exactly as he was at 75 just before he died, but I’m not sure how grandpa would have felt about being 75 for eternity.) I thought this was stupid even as a kid, but as far as I know, this is the reason why they try to ‘preserve’ the corpse in metal caskets rather than let nature take its course. Well, that and the profits of the funeral homes and casket-makers.

RS Janes
13 years ago

It’s the biggest, and most awful, joke in history. Besides, why would the dead want to come back to life here if they’re already — well, some of them anyway — in heaven?

Joyce Lovelace
Joyce Lovelace
13 years ago

Because they will be coming back to life on the new earth, a new Eden, with a body that has been healed of its ailments. Heaven will come on Earth.

RS Janes
13 years ago

This whole preserve-the-corpse thing started well before Christianity — as you pointed out, Ken, the ancient Egyptians did it, as well as the early Jews. I think it’d be better, and cheaper, to just let the dead join the ‘cycle of nature’ — you know ‘ashes to ashes and dust to dust.’

Joyce, I just can’t believe in the concept of Jesus or anyone else converting this place into a new Eden and the dead returning to inhabit it. We could make the world a much better place in which to live, but that would be by using our brains instead of relying on religious dogma to lead us. The human race is evolving, just as a child evolves into an adult, but, despite the fact that some of us, individually, are ahead of others in the ‘adult’ part, en masse and as nations, we are still mostly greedy, selfish, scared children. I think we will achieve our human adulthood when we no longer need gods or religions to tell us to do good — we’ll do it because it makes sense rather than to avoid the threat of a mythical hell. If there is a rational loving God, certainly he’d be more pleased in his creations treating each other well and finding peace on their own rather than abasing themselves in prayer and hypocritical words to get him to solve their problems. As Emerson said, “Go put your creed into your deed.” As James 2:20 in the NT put it: “Faith without works is dead,” and not the kind of death that will usher in a new Paradise on Earth.

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