Your Loved Ones "Final Wishes & Demise"

Is it unethical, bad karma or self-preservation not to adhere to your loved ones final wishes for their resting place?

It makes little sense to try and control what happens to your remains when you are no longer around to recoop the joys or benefits of that control.

I wonder if people who make elaborate requests concerning dispostion of their bodies are probably people who have trouble with the concept of not existing.

It seems like decisions concerning the disposition of a body should be made by the survivors, not the dead. (Is it really any of their business what happens to them when they die?)

Say for instance your parents divorce. And your mother wants to be put in a masoleum. Let’s say she doesn’t have a life insurance policy or a penny to put towards such an expense. Is it fair that her children go into financial debt to pay for such a request?

Say your father wants to be cremated but that is against your spirituality (or religion) Is that fair to make you suffer internally for the rest of your days?

Survivors shouldn’t have to do something they’re uncomfortable with or ethically opposed to. Mourning and moving on is hard enough. Why add to the burden?


I’d say it depends on the request, Isabelle.

I agree with you on the mausoleum example. If your final request is expensive, you should have the means to accommodate your request.

I disagree with you, however, re the cremation request example. What if my request is to donate every scrap of me you can to help someone but you’re uncomfortable with that request? I’d say my request trumps your distress.

I, for example, want my body donated to the Body Farm. I’d like to think my husband (with whom I’ve discussed this request repeatedly) and children (assuming I live a long life) would adhere to my wishes.

Actually, survivors get to do what they like with remains. This is weird, but in law, once a person dies, the body they leave behind is property. Not a person. Property.

And it is the property of the person who inherits it. They have both rights (to do as they like) and responsibility (not to leave the body unclaimed). The inheritor is the next of kin. I don’t know the laws for other countries, but in the USA, each state has legislated a definite hierarchy of who gets to say what will happen to the body. For instance, if you’re married, and you die, your spouse gets to say. If you’re divorced, legally separated, or never married, your adult children get to say. If you don’t have adult children, your parents get to say. If your parents are dead, your brothers or sisters get to say. And on down the line, until you are a homeless person with no known kin, in which case, your body is kept by the State for some time waiting for some kin to show up and claim it, and if no one does, it is cremated, or buried in potter’s field. (Biblical metaphor for gov’t-owned land to bury unwanted dead)

If you want badly to donate your organs, and your short-sighted loved one decides in a fit of tears after your death that he or she just can’t bear to have you cut up that others might live, then you won’t donate your organs. You are property at that point. Property cannot dictate the wishes of the property owners.

Spiritually, or morally, of course, you were once a person, I presume your kinfolks loved you, and therefore, what you had to say about your wishes while you were alive, should have some deep emotional bearing on what they decide. But if you had seen the messy arguments I’ve seen between large groups of kinfolk, on whether the ex-wife who leaps in to make the arrangements has a say, whether they consent to tell the Sheriff in writing that they haven’t got the resources to claim the body, whether they need an autopsy or not, whether an autopsy is a mutilation, whether they think one of the other relatives poisoned the dead one… you’d be happy just to know your kinfolk could agree on something to do with your remains.

Whether or not it was what you hoped they would do.