Where Are All the Dead Bodies?

When you see all the massive apartment buildings and complexes, tracts of houses, and other scenes like stadiums full of thousands of people that amaze and astonish you with how many people there are in the world, since you’re only seeing a very small percentage of them, do you ever wonder why there seem to be so few cemeteries in comparison? And the cemeteries have been ‘collecting’ people for a long time. I know that some people are cremated, but probably only a small percentage. Are there really enough cemetery accomodations available for everyone who wants them?


Well, a dead body only lasts eight years in the ground. Nine for a tanner.

Cite: Hamlet, Act V, scene i.

Two Words: Soylent Green! :cool:

It is my understanding, that once a graveyard lot is no longer paid for (respecting a certain deadline (no pun intended)), the lot is free for being reused.

This is what I think is commonplace here in Denmark, but I would think, that it holds true in most Christian countries. I seem to remember something about jewish graves being held sacred for eternity, but IANE.
Being strongley atheistic, I plan to leave such decisions to my successors :slight_smile:

Uh, No, I don’t think so… Only have to “BUY” the farm once. Does not revert for taxes. That is one hole you only have to pour money into once. YMMV :smiley:

As stated, I can only speak for the practice in my own country (Denmark), and some further digging (again, no pun intended (henceforth NPI)) reveals, that here, the rules seem to be laid down (NPI) by the parishes.
http://www.udby-hoerby.dk/hoerby_kirkegaard.htm describes the rules for that specific graveyard, but since I don’t expect knowledge of the Danish language from any of you, I will summarize the relevant info:

At Hørby Cemetary, the protected time span is 30 years for coffins, 10 years for urns.
The protected time span is the time is that, in which the graveyard lot may not be reused.
The proprietor of the lot can at any time prolong the the protected time span at a rate of 6DKR per lot per year (1.01USD at current rates).

Population has grown tremendously, remember. Don’t look at todays population as an indication of how many plots you would expect.

Quite a good point! But the initial question still has some weight. if graveyard lots were kept, there should still be far more of them.
I currently live in Aarhus, Denmark, and I remember reading an article about our old graveyards. It seems, that a century ago, there was a graveyard at the place where our city hall is now. The only remaining evidence is the remaining jewish cemetary, and a slightly different distribution of chemicals in the soil…

The filling up of cemetaries has indeed been a problem in older (mostly European) major cities. One example of how this problem has been dealt with can be seen in the Paris Catacombs. The creation of this ossuary was a huge public works project of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in which human remains from cemetaries surrounding the city were dug up and neatly stacked in the caverns of abandoned limestone quarries underlying the city. It is estimated that the remains of some 7 million individuals are in the Catacombs, and twice a week tourists are permitted to take a self-guided tour of parts of the ossuary (starting from Place Denfert-Rochereau).

There have been something like 100 billion people who have ever lived. If you gave each of them a six foot by three foot plot, they’d take up less than 65 thousand square miles; Earth has a land area of 57 million square miles.

Remember, dead people don’t really take up a lot of space. They don’t need a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, and a bedroom. They don’t need another whole set of rooms to go work in to earn money; no offices, factories, or shops. They require no acreage of farmland to grow them food.

“There have been something like 100 billion people who have ever lived. If you gave each of them a six foot by three foot plot, they’d take up less than 65 thousand square miles; Earth has a land area of 57 million square miles.”

I love hearing smart people talk. Seriously, and you have Karl Sagan reference. My SO would be jealous I posted my adoration!

…sorry that would be Carl. Dammit. :smack:

Well, you’ve come to the right message board, then!

I wonder about the “small percentage” part, as cremation’s the norm in my experience. Does anybody know what the buried v. cremated figures might be?

“Bury me in an apple orchard,
That I may touch your lips again.”
–Ed Sanders ,The Burial Waltz

It’s awfully selfish for a creature that lives a mere 95 years to claim a plot of ground for all eternity. I hope my hard won nutrients make good plants after I’m done with them. Both my parents went to ground in ash after they died. No marble obelisk can make my remains any better than that.

Plus, dead people don’t last forever. You can reuse or build over areas already used for burials, once the corpses below have rotted to dust, or just been forgotten. And you have the cultures that cremate or cannibalize (!) their dead, rather than burying them.

[Poltergeist]“You moved the tombstones, but you DIDN’T MOVE THE BODIES!!!”[/Poltergeist]

I can only assume the Op is in America. The reason (if so) is that we have a shitload of land. Based on the desc of buildings and such, can I assume you live in a major metro area? Even in NYC and LA you only need to drive a few dozen miles, max., to find empty space. From what I remember the “problem” is mainly in western Europe where limited land in urban areas makes even a small private yard hard to come by. Even in Chicago, I’ve seen many, many lush cemetaries (the bodies do make nice fertilizer). As for cremation, my family has been in the mortuary line for over a hundred years. Only a minority are cremated.

Fjodor, welcome to SDMB. Have a hyggelig time! (I was kidnapped by a Viking once and taken to Funen for some really good parties with lots of Tuborg. The Stockholm Syndrome is nothing when compared to the Nyborg-Odense Syndrome.)

Is it allowable in Denmark to have ashes scattered at sea?

I have just done a quick check on Google and found out that 70% of people in the UK are now cremated. Even so there are problems in finding land if people want to be buried. The UK Government are proposing changing the law to reuse burial plots. This news article gives more details :-