Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Body Donation: The Frugal Death

family at cemetary

Many of you probably have very specific ideas in mind for what should happen with your body after you die: Cremation, burial in a family plot, scatter your ashes from a mountain top, or perhaps something else. Maybe you haven't thought about it at all, or can't decide. For me, I've always hated the idea of being embalmed, of being pumped full of chemicals and placed in a fancy box for some weird open casket funeral. Ideally, I'd prefer to die in the woods and have my parts decompose just like the shed leaves of a tree, turning into rich mulch deep in the rainforest somewhere. This is not really possible, though, or practical at least.

What I've decided to do, it turns out, does involve getting embalmed- but for science! I'm donating my body, on my death, to medical science. It will likely be used for teaching future doctors anatomy, so when it comes time to save someone's life, they know firsthand where things are.

This option, in addition to being helpful, is much cheaper than any traditional method of taking care of the body after death. There is no cost associated with body donation, which is great because death can be surprisingly expensive. While it may seem strange to worry about being frugal in times of death, I like the idea that my family won't be saddled with funeral home bills or big decisions about what to do with me after I die. My family will simply have to call the number on my donor ID card, and I will be whisked away by the program I've donated my body to, which happens to be the University of Washington School of Medicine.

body donation forms
The paperwork is brief, and only requires the signature of two adult witnesses.
Here is a great introductory article, that explains more about the pros and cons of body donation. In order to find a specific program that I could apply to, I had to do a web search for "body donation" plus my home state. This program had a simple form to fill out, which just needed to be mailed in. Soon after, they sent me a card to keep in my wallet, which has a number to call if I should ever die.

I honestly have rarely even considered what would happen to my body after death, being relatively young, but it feels good to be prepared, and to know that it's not something my kids are going to have to figure out during a difficult time. As unpleasant as it may be to plan for these things, a good time to make important decisions about what to do with your body, is before you die.

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February 11, 2016 at 12:52 PM

I wanted to donate my body to a medical school, but my husband is not on board. He is, however, OK with donating my brain. My brain is going to the Harvard Brain Bank after my demise.

February 11, 2016 at 2:55 PM

Great blog. Gives me a good thing to think about. I will ask my son and hubby if this is okay with them. I'm pretty sure it will be. Thanks for bringing this up--it's important.