Choosing where to be dead.

Unsealed Grave. Painted by the author.

My wife and I finally made up our wills. I had surgery on Tuesday for something very minor, but I was under anesthesia, and my doctor nudged me to make up my will beforehand (not the surgeon, mind you).

I have very little to pass on besides my boxes of stored art, but it seemed significant to know who would care for my children if my wife and I both died. But then up popped this question (we were filling out a quick and dirty online will at Rocket Lawyer). What would I like done with my remains?

I'd always assumed I'd like my ashes scattered, but then I read somewhere that I deny the Earth the nourishment that comes from my decaying body if I just leave it my burnt ashes. It's a rip-off. So I checked into whether I could just be buried in a pine box—something biodegradable, unsealed, un-vaulted. Get me as close to that Earth as possible. I thought: That's got to be illegal. 

It turns out it's legal! In fact, I can be buried on my own land (if I owned any). There's a lot written about it. Some vaults in the ground are bottomless, they just prevent the unsightly effect of the ground sinking above you, but the worms are free to enter. Good to avoid embalming too, so you're fully recyclable.

By the end of the day, I felt sort of giddy from the decision. I want to know my body is returning to this place—the Earth—that has given me so much. When I'm lying on my death bed, I wonder if it won't be a solace. Meanwhile, the surgery went fine, and I am immensely grateful for this family I live with.