Archive for August, 2012
Cremation or Premature Burials
Author: Team APT
Creative: Cattie Khoury
Published: August 26, 2012
For this week’s blog, we are going to step away from talking about cremation and take a trip back into the 18th and 19th century. As you know, if you have already been reading these blogs, cremation was not yet a popular method for handling the deceased during these centuries in almost all modern countries such as the United States and Europe. The proper method for burial in these countries during these eras was in ground burial.
During this time, a severe cholera epidemic was surfacing. At this time there was no cure or vaccine for cholera. Many people lapsed into a state that was deathlike because of the sickness. This state was extremely convincing, which according to rumors, caused accidental, premature burials. That means, people were reportedly being buried alive. This sparked an enormously widespread fear through people of being buried alive. This fear sparked something else, a plethora of inventions that were made to prevent permanent, premature burial. These inventions were made so that if someone was accidentally buried alive, they had a way to get out or to alert people above the ground that they were alive down in the ground.
In the 1790’s, one of the first safety coffins was invented by the demand of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. It was created before his death in 1792. This version was seemingly simple. This coffin had a window installed into it so that light was able to come in. There was also an air tube inserted into it so that those buried in the coffin had a fresh supply of air coming in. The final adjustment made to this coffins was instead of it being nailed down, a lock was fitted to the coffin. The keys to the lock were to be carried by the Duke’s shroud.
The next version of the safety coffins was made a mere 6 years later, in 1798. This version was created by a German priest whose name was P.G. Pessler. He believed that all safety coffins should be made with a tube inserted in it. From this tube, a cord would run from within the coffin all the way up to a church’s bells. This way if a person was accidentally buried alive, all of the people who could hear the church bells would be alerted that someone was buried alive. However, this idea was highly impractical. There is only one set of church bells per church, but many deceased bodies needing safety coffins. All of the coffins would be aligned with strings ringing the same bells. If those bells were rung, it would be extremely difficult to decipher which coffin had rung the bell. Despite the impracticality of this invention, it ignited the preceding version of safety coffins that alerted the public of a premature burial through the sounding of bells.
In 1829, Dr Johann Gottfried Taberger designed a safety coffin that used its own individual bell used to alert night watchmen. This casket was made with a string and a bell. The string was long enough to reach the person in the coffin’s feet, as it was tied to the person’s head, hands and feet, and it was tied to a bell that was placed above the ground. This bell had its own housing, which was made to prevent any accidental ringing. If the person that was buried was to wake, their movement alone would signal the bells. They could ring the bell even louder by simply pulling on the string. This system was designed to alert those who were above the ground that they were alive. Some cemeteries would hire a watchmen who would monitor the grounds and listen for ringing bells. The idea was a good one, but the reality of the invention wasn’t as great as the idea. During a corpse’s natural decomposition, the corpse swells and shifts positions. This natural swelling and shifting could place tension on the cords and that alone could cause the bells to ring, falsely alerting those who were around. Besides that, not many cemeteries invested in those nighttime employees who would listen for bells. Which means, if the bells were to ring, there typically wasn’t anyone around to hear the bell.
Another one of these inventions, which was made in the 1930’s, was a grave that was not dependent on an outsider to relieve the person inside the grave from its chambers. These graves were built typically on the sides of hills with an opening in the front. This bodies were laid parallel to the ground and while the contents of these graves were still technically underground, the openings were out of the ground. These openings acted like doors made from thick metal that could be opened from the inside, but not the outside. On the inside, there was a wheel that could be turned by the person on the inside to open the door so that if the person was buried alive, they could get out.
This was roughly around the time the widespread fear of being buried alive ended, along with the safety coffin frenzy. This could possibly be because medical technology was advancing, which made the determination of death certain. During the 18th and 19th century, they did not have medical technology that could determine death for certain how we can today.
Unfortunately, despite all of the great safety coffin inventions, not one of the inventions have been recorded or documented anywhere to have saved someone from being buried alive.
For now, our being buried alive is almost certainly pronounced dead.
Why do we have cremation and funeral services?
Author: Team APT
Writer: Cattie Khoury
Published: August 17, 2012
For thousands and thousands of years and as long as time could track we as humans have been performing funeral and cremation rituals to honor the life of a deceased person. Out of all the differences in the world and in between cultures, celebrating the life a loved lived once they’ve reached death is one thing we all as people do. It is a sacred ritual that is part of not only of our religion, country or culture. It is a worldwide act that we all as members of the human species follow.
Where did this ritual come from? We all seem to perform funeral and cremation services, but where did originate? Why do we celebrate death? It is a part of life, but why do we perform services to acknowledge it? Why do we hold these services so close to our hearts? It’s almost normal for us to arrange a service for a loved one once they have passed, but why is that? Let’s start with the first question.
Where did this ritual come from?
It is hard to truly pinpoint the very root of its existence. These types of rituals are as old as our species and civilization is. Funeral type rituals have been performed for thousands of years. It said to be one of the things that set us apart from other mammals in the earth. Evidences of burials date back to as many as 60,000 years ago in Iraq, where someone was buried amongst a variety of flowers. Egyptians performed extravagant funeral services. Building a pyramid is quite a way to lay someone to his or her rest. There is no pinpointed beginning of these rituals because for centuries, people have been burying the dead in various ways, but all for the same purpose.
Why do we celebrate death?
We aren’t necessarily celebrating death by having cremation and funeral services. We are celebrating the life that the person lived and celebrating the presence of their life in ours. Funeral services are typically used to help acknowledge that death has really occurred. For most, the death can come as a shock. Nobody can be truly prepared for the feelings that death can bring and some people truly have a hard time facing the reality of the death. In order to complete the process of mourning, which is extremely vital when accepting and getting over a death, facing the emotions and denial the death brings is vital. A funeral or cremation service can help deal with all of the feelings that it can bring and present reality. Seeing the cremated remains or the deceased person lying in the casket helps us people realize that this person is actually gone. Denial is a milestone that is one of the hardest to get over in any addiction. When we love someone, we are addicted to him or her. We may hate that person at times but we truly do love that person. We are addicted. When we lose the person we are addicted to, or love, we are typically faced with denial. The first step in getting over almost any addiction is admitting reality. This is necessary in the mourning process. Funerals help admit reality. Funerals also give those were affected by the death an opportunity to release the emotions associated with death. Some people cry while others scream. At a service, all forms of mourning are accepted and encouraged. These are one of the only places in society in which such behavior can be practiced without judgment or harsh reactions.
Why do we hold these services so close to our hearts?
These services give us the chance to reminisce on our loved ones out loud. They allow us the chance to join together with others who are mourning the loss and gain strength from each other’s memories and feelings. It gives people a chance to hug each other through the mourning, a chance to be reassured that nobody is alone through this struggle. It gives people the opportunity to smile and laugh while telling stories of previous troubles and triumphs, when before the service all that most people can feel is pain or numbness. When any death happens, it is a tragedy. Some deaths occurred suddenly while others occurred slowly. No matter which way a death occurred, it is one of the most emotionally scarring and hollowing experiences the family and friends of the person who passed away could experience. It can leave those people filled with questions, regrets and most of all, pain. These services give us the chance to show our love for the person who passed away, to say goodbye, to express our grief and release all of the emotions with a group of people who are experiencing the same exact pain.
What is Pet Cremation?
Author: Team APT
Writer: Cattie Khoury
Published: August 15, 2012
Ask any family with a dog what their dog means to their family. A majority of those people might be a little confused. The majority of dog lovers see their dog as part of their family. According to the AVMA Market research statistics on U.S. pet ownership in 2007, the average number of dogs and cats per household were about 2 each. According to that same statistic, there were about 43,021,000 households owning dogs and about 37,460,000 households owning cats. That’s saying something. We as Americans love our pets and that is no secret. As most are accepted into the family, when the time comes to say goodbye to them the same burial method we would use for any part of the family is followed. One of those burial methods offered is pet cremation.
Pet cremation is almost identical to a traditional cremation service. However, not all of the paperwork needed for a human cremation is needed for a pet cremation service. Typically, just a waver needs to be signed over stating that the person arranging the pet cremation is in a position of authority to be able to create such arrangements. The process can be as cheap as $100 dollars and as expensive as a human cremation, depending on the type of service chosen. There are some Paris Hilton’s in the world who might want diamond-encrusted urns. However, this isn’t typical. Pet cremation services are usually very inexpensive. Once the details of the arrangement are finalized, the cremation process can begin.
Once the body of the deceased pet has been picked up from the death place, cremation of the body can begin. The deceased is placed into a cremation chamber and heated to a very high temperature. Once everything in the body besides the bones is consumed, the next step can begin. The bones are separated out from the rest of the remains, which are scraped up and put into a container. Next the bones are heated to an even higher temperature until the bones are confined to small particles, resembling dust or ash. This entire process could take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the size of the pet.
Once the cremation is completed, all of the remains are placed into the container chosen. There are a variety of containers available to place the remains in. There are urns that available that are made of either metal or ceramic substances, wood containers and even jewelry such as pendants or necklaces. Lastly, the remains are returned to you. However, if you chose to purchase a graveside service the remains typically aren’t returned until after the service.
This is the entire cremation process in a nutshell. It is almost identical to a human cremation process, besides the facts that it takes less time, is less expensive and doesn’t require as much paperwork. For those who view their dog as part of their family, pet cremation is available as a method for disposal.
Cremation Controversy and Tradition
Author: Team APT
Writer: Cattie Khoury
Published: August 15, 2012
Cremation has been a source for controversy in the world for as long as records can count. Its acceptance was not granted in America until the 1870’s, despite its 20,000 year old age. Cremation services traditionally entail burning a deceased body at extremely high temperatures. The body then decomposes entirely, until all that remains are mineral compounds and ash. The remains physically look like dust and can be stored in virtually anything, or even scattered. Though the practice has been granted acceptance in various cultures and religions, a new controversy branching off of cremation has been started.
Liquid cremation is the process of heating a deceased body until all that remains is a liquid reduction of the body. Alkaline hydrolysis is the formal name of this practice. It requires putting a deceased body into a machine named the Resonator, which is filled with potassium hydroxide and water. It is then heated to a high temperature of 180 degrees Celsius and runs until all that remains is a greenish-brown liquid mixture and soft calcium. The pollutants in the body, such as mercury, are extracted. Because the pollutants are extracted, it is claimed to be an eco-friendly mixture. The bones remaining are turned to ash. These remains are given back to the deceased person’s family. Next, the greenish-brown mixture is poured into sewage systems. The scientists who created this process claim that the entire operation poses almost no ecological harm. “The effluent is sterile and carries no DNA,” said Steve Shaal, a manufacturer of bio-cremation vessels. “There are no harmful prions or pathogens being transmitted. According to these scientists, they are completely destroyed in this process by chemical and heat.” There are no mercury emissions associated with bio-cremation. With liquid cremations, there is no major consumption of landmass unlike the amount associated with traditional burials. Also, fewer trees are used because caskets aren’t involved in the process. Despite its claimed ecologically friendly benefits, there is still controversy. The controversy brings up moral, religious and political issues.
Some of the most commonly practiced religions in America have only recently accepted the traditional cremation practice into their religions. While the Catholic Church recently permitted traditional cremation process a little over 10 years ago, the possible idea of liquid cremation is currently frowned upon. The Catholic Religion is imprinted with their belief on resurrection of the soul and body after death. Because of this belief, they believe there is a proper way to dispose of the body. They believe that cremation is blasphemous and is a declaration in the disbelief in the resurrection of the body, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation_in_Christianity. The controversy over the practice of traditional cremation was settled over 10 years ago, but the new branch of cremation has started another controversy. At a Catholic Conference in New York City, a bill was created disapproving the practice. In the bill it said, “It is therefore essential that the body of a deceased person be treated with respect and reverence. Processes involving chemical digestion of human remains do not sufficiently respect this dignity.” However, there are some branches of Christianity that do approve of the practice. Protestant churches were the first to approve of traditional cremations services in the Christian religion. Currently, there is no documented or known opposition to the practice of liquid cremation within the Protestant religion. Judaism holds a very strong opposition to the practice of cremation. Jewish law strictly prohibits the practice of cremation. It is seen a dishonor to the body. There is also a cultural opposition to the practice. During the 1900’s, millions of Jewish people were sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust. These people were innocent, yet were sentenced to death just because of their religion and culture. They were punished by death, through cremation. This has left a terribly bad taste in loads of Jewish people about cremation. The new branch of liquid cremation has not changed the opposition to the practice.
Religious convictions aren’t the only existing sources causing opposition to the practice. There are political questions stirring the pot. The practice is extremely young, with the first bio-cremation occurring in 1998. Because of its young age, some scientists believe there are more questions yet to be answered. These questions refer to the potential health risks to the environment. California assemblyman, Jeff Miller, proposed a bill in 2010 to legalize the practice of liquid cremation. He was confronted with questions from scientists that he did not know the answers to. He removed his proposal shortly after. The lack of known factual information about the young practice caused a lot of people in other states to be skeptical about liquid cremation. One man who practiced liquid cremation in his Ohio funeral home became a lone ranger in the practice. Jeff Edwards, the funeral home owner, hit his 19th performance of the practice when Ohio lawmakers began questioning the morality of it. Soon after this, they stopped issuing permits for the practice. Around the United States, in cities and states from Nevada to New Hampshire, lawmakers and citizens were becoming skeptical of alkaline hydrolysis.
Critics of the practice target the missing information about the process. They claim that there is no scientific proof concluding that there truly is no ecological harm from the process. To determine whether or not the process poses harm to the environment would require factual information on the process, and according to some, that information has not been presented. “We would have to determine the quality of the waste and if it is treatable through our system. We haven’t seen any data or been approached by any of the industries,” said Jayne Joy, director of environmental compliance for Eastern Municipal Water District.
However, this did not cease the battle for legality. The year after his previous proposal, California’s Jeff Miller created a new one. After meeting with various scientists and water quality officials, he created a new, redirected proposal targeting safety concerns and other questions he didn’t have scientific answers to in his previous proposal. The Ohio funeral home owner, Jeff Edwards, placed a lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Health because they stopped issuing permits for alkaline hydrolysis. Various persons of importance have taken many steps to legalize the practice of alkaline hydrolysis. Currently, 8 states have legalized the practice of alkaline hydrolysis, not including California or Ohio. There are also many persons of importance taking action to ban the practice altogether. Many eco-activists are taking steps to ban the practice because of their fear of further ecological harm. Some believe the chemically treated remains will harm the ocean and the marine life dwelling within it. Michael Lee Madsen Sr. is currently trying to gain 1,000,000 people to sign his petition to stop the practice altogether. Currently, there are 19 states that are anticipating legislative decisions as to legality of the practice.
As for now, the practice of the possibly eco-friendly, potentially eco-harming method for human disposal is a topic for controversy and may remain so for the next 20,000 years.
Celebrities Who Chose Cremation
Author: Team APT
Writer: Cattie Khoury
Creative: APT Media, INC.
Published: August 1, 2012
Cremation is not only becoming popular locally and religiously. The process has been very popular amongst some of the world’s most popular people; our celebrities! Here’s a list of five of some of the world’s most famous people who chose cremation.
Albert Einstein was cremated. He passed away in 1955 at the age of 76. His wish was to be cremated and have his ashes scattered. That wish was granted. His ashes were scattered in an unspecified river that was located in New Jersey. However, his entire body wasn’t cremated. Before his cremation, Dr. Thomas Harvey removed his brain for scientific study. Apparently, no permission was given by Einstein or his family to remove the brain. Dr. Harvey was a pathologist at Princeton Hospital and was fired from his position once he refused to return the brain. Nobody could track down the missing brain after that, until 1978. A reporter named Steven Levy decided to track down the brain. He discovered that Dr. Harvey still had the genius brain and kept it in two mason jars in his home in Wichita, Kansas. In 1998, Harvey returned the brain back to the Princeton Hospita
John F. Kennedy JR. was cremated. Kennedy passed away in 1999 in a horrific plane crash. The plane was destroyed in a collision with water. The plane hit the water on at an 80 degree angle at a rate of descent that exceeded 4,700 feet per minute. The next day, the plane was located under about 116 feet of water. At around 4:30 PM on July 20, 1999 John’s body was pulled out of the collision. His body was cremated on July 21, in the Mayflower Cemetery crematorium. The following morning, his ashes were spread from a warship, the Navy Destroyer USS Briscoe, off of the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
Janis Joplin was cremated. She was known for her breathtaking voice and innovative sound. She passed away at the age of 27, due to a drug overdose. She didn’t show up to Sunset Sound Recorders one day for a recording session, which worried her producer. Apparently, this type of behavior was not like her. On October 4, 1970, her manager John Cooke drove to the hotel Janis was staying at, the Landmark Hotel. He found her body lying on the floor beside her bed. Her death was officially caused by an overdose of heroin. On October 10th, Joplin was cremated at Westwood Memorial Park. Her ashes were scattered at Stinson Beach, which is located in Marin County.
The John Lennon, famous for being a member of the Beatles and later being an antiwar activist, was cremated. Lennon passed away on December 8th, 1980 in the presence of his wife Yoko. On the day he passed away, Lennon and Yoko were returning back into their home in The Dakota, which was an apartment building located in Manhattan. They were nearing the entrance when a man, Mark David Chapman, called his name. Lennon turned as Chapman fired five shots. Lennon was shot. Lennon rushed into the building yelling that he was shot. Two police cars arrived and one took Lennon the Roosevelt Hospital. He passed away during transit. He was 40 years old when he passed away. He was cremated on December 10th and his ashes were then given back to his wife, Yoko.
Heath Ledger, a famous actor known for starring in various movies, was cremated. He passed away at the age of 28 due to the abuse of prescription drugs. He was found unconscious in his bed, in his home at around 2:45 on January 22, 2008 by house housekeeper. Emergency medical technicians arrived at the scene at around 3:30, but they were not able to revive him. A few minutes later, he was pronounced dead and was removed from his apartment. The cause of death was concluded to be an accidental abuse of over 6 kinds of prescription medicines. After two funeral services, first a public funeral and then a private funeral, his body was cremated at the Fremantle Cemetery in his homeland of Perth, Australia. His ashes were scattered on the family plot at Karrakatta Cemetery next to both of his grandparents.
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