Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bodies Doubled

There's an old saying: "There are as many people living today as have lived and died before us." Or, in other words, there are, today, as many people who have died and are buried as there are walking this earth.

Once the human race decided to formalize the death of someone by having funerals and dedicated burial spots, it set into motion the potential that more real estate will be owned and occupied by the dead than is available for the living. We're aren't hardly there yet but, the United Kingdom has got themselves in a sticky-wicket when it comes to burying their dead. In some places, like London, they're literally out of room.

To resolve this sort-of "standing room only" problem, they're looking to "stack" their dead in a kind of "re-organization" process. For the dead person that has been chilling for more than 75 years below ground and has no known living relatives and is just taking up space, so-to-speak, it means they are eligible for new dead-in partner. It's sort of a grave-for-let system. It starts by digging up the old remains and that original hole is then deepened. Following that, the original occupant is re-buried at the new lower depth. Finally, a new stiff is slapped on top of the original occupier and the hole is all tidied back up. Hopefully, they'll both get along. Wherever they might be.

The news article that covered this (See Full Story), never really got into how the new grave will be marked. I suppose the new occupant will get top billing since either he or she is the only one left with visiting family members.

If any one has ever seen the ancient catacombs in Italy or France, they would have seen the bones of thousands of dead stacked neatly in the many cubby holes of those extensive underground labyrinths. The catacombs were a result of the poor not having the money to buy the land they needed to bury their dead; so, the wealthy of that time donated this space on their own lands (tax deductible, I'm sure.). Today, we rely on land that was previously purchased by the deceased, or by his/her family and dedicated for their burials. Those that can't afford the literal thousands that it costs to die, wind up in unmarked, publicly-funded potter's graves.

At some point in our, I hope, distant future, some kind of return to the days of the catacombs will have to occur. Albeit, not as dank. In a way, the columbaria of today are a step in that direction. Don't be surprised that at some point in the future, the cremation of the dead and the columbarium-type of storage will have to be mandated by the governments of the world's most developed cities because there will simply be no more space for dedicated burials. When that happens, rich and poor, alike, will finally achieve equality on this earth. Just mark my words. That is, if we live that long.

Image by watchsmart's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. All rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

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