Sunday, January 15, 2017

A natural (or green) burial

For the avoidance of doubt, Clare has always insisted on a green burial. A shroud or decomposable coffin, a small tree - a rowan would be ideal - planted on top.

We had heard that Wells Cemetery has a corner devoted to natural burials so we strolled down there yesterday. The cemetery is quite pleasant (pictured below) but there are no woodland plots, just a field adjacent to the main site reserved for 'lawn burials'. Not at all what she had in mind.

Wells cemetery

Apparently I am to be buried in an adjoining plot.

I'm good with that - it's not really my problem anyway. Perhaps I could have a yew? A service to future bowmen?

The headstones were in varied states of disrepair. You should plainly avoid anything where the stonemason drills tiny holes and then pops in different coloured stone flakes to spell out the legend. These inevitably fall out over the years. The best lettering is chiseled then painted.

The green/natural burial protocol forbids headstones. The idea is, over time, to create a new wood. There would be records in the office of course. And perhaps GPS coordinates on the Internet.

As we wandered amongst the graves, I suggested I could mark her eventual spot with a holographic projector. As the visitor approached, a projection of Clare would emerge which would greet and say a few words. It could be solar-powered for maximum greenness.

And then I thought: folk would be wandering through this graveyard assaulted by a cacophonous swarm of the long-dead springing into existence, like chuggers from hell.

My second thought was augmented reality. In the future, everyone will inhabit a reality painted with tailored virtualized overlays. This will let the dead speak only to those interested, and the dataset will live in the cloud, not on a weatherproof server under that rowan tree.

But by then, synthetic versions of ourselves will inhabit the datasphere, interacting on demand. It will seem like we had never died.

No-one will care about those spectral arboreal presences in Wells cemetery.


Note: these funeral arrangements are entirely speculative at time of writing.


Update (4th February 2017):

Clare has thought some more about the practicalities of a green burial in Somerset. Hence this video statement.

I guess we'll do what we can on the day in question.

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