Unusual afterlife options
It’s a topic many people choose to avoid – and, in fact, the decision of burial plans is often left in the hands of a loved one when the time comes. Connie Diletti’s new documentary takes a look at this taboo subject from a personal perspective as she chronicles her journey across North America in search of the fascinating people, places and facilities involved in non-traditional afterlife services.
As a brief preview: some of the options include plastination, cryonics, mummication, glassblowing, diamonds, space travel, fine art photography and using your remains to grow coral reefs.
To find out more, 50PLUS.com asked Connie a few questions about her journey:
You are quite young to be making a film about burial procedures. What sparked your interest in this topic?
Death has no age boundaries! My curiosity regarding what you can do with your body after you die was sparked while renewing my Health Card. After agreeing to be an organ donor I was presented with a large sheet of paper listing every possible organ/tissue one could donate – with little checkboxes next to each one. It was an overwhelming sight, and it triggered a series of questions, starting with ‘Where do all of these organs and tissues go after they’ve been donated?’
What was the process like visiting all these different places and learning about different afterlife options?
Everyone I encountered was very lovely and willing to share his or her knowledge! I conducted research – online and in person – for a couple of years before heading out on the road to film. Everyone was a little guarded and curious as to what I was going to be filming, who else I was interviewing, and what my intentions were for making such a film. This all changed once I met everyone in person – people were very willing to share their intelligence and let me into their space so I could document as much as I could about each option. I should also mention that some places were a little more comfortable than others – hanging out in a barn in Northern California with glassblowers had a different vibe than touring a Baltimore basement with an abundance of cadavers soaked in acetone!
How did your family feel about you taking on this project? Did you help them come to a decision on their own afterlife services?
I grew up in a very traditional Italian Roman-Catholic family. Although most members of my family are open-minded, the only afterlife option that was considered/spoken about involved a casket in the ground at our local Catholic cemetery. While going through the four year process of making ‘Corpus’, my family grew to learn about what I was researching – and as my mind expanded, so did theirs. When it came time for me to share my decision with my family, they seemed onboard, interested and were starting to consider non-traditional options for themselves.
Do you think people need to take more initiative about planning their own arrangements for when the time comes?
Absolutely! If there is anything you have some control over in this life, it’s what options you have for your body after you die. I feel that many people avoid making their own arrangements due to fear – who wants to accept that one day their life will end?! I know that I didn’t want to.
Discussing, realizing and accepting that each of us is here (in the physical) for a finite amount of time can actually help us appreciate one another and ourselves more. Entertaining what you’d like to do with your body after you die is a great way to initiate that end-of-life-conversation with those you love!
In the film you cover a myriad of obscure and fascinating options for non-traditional afterlife services. Which was your favorite?
I have to say that each option has a special place in my heart. After learning more about each one, the decision as to what I was going to do with my body became increasingly more difficult to make! Some of my favourite options include blasting your cremated remains into space, being buried in a shroud (eco-burial), being blown into glass and mummification.
What was the main thing you took into consideration when making your decision?
The main things I took into consideration were how my body was going to be treated, what energy was going to be invested in the process and how would it effect my loved ones. For example – with the concrete reef ball option – I enjoyed the fact that after your cremated remains were made into a concrete reef ball (complete with GPS tracker) – your loved ones could go online and see what part of the ocean you were in.
Do you think you’ll ever change your mind on the decision you came to?
Anything is possible, yet I don’t think I will change my mind, I’m still very happy with the decision I made.
Be sure to tune into VisionTV on October 26 at 10pm ET / 7pm PT to discover what service she decided to go with. Connie will also be speaking at the ZoomerLife Conference (formerly CARP Conference) on October 27 in Toronto.