When I die (which I hope will not happen for many, many years), if things go according to what I am in the midst of planning, representatives of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Willed Body Program will pick up my body. The medical school will harvest usable organs for transplants. The rest of my body will be used for research, training, etc. by the medical school. I expect to sign the appropriate documents before witnesses, within the next few weeks.
Unless otherwise directed by the donor when signing the agreement, after completion of the medical use of the body, UT Southwestern Medical center cremates the remains and inters them, anonymously, in the Memorial Garden on the university campus. Done. No fuss, no bother, no funeral, no expense.
I am writing this both as a record of my wishes and as a platform to suggest that others consider the same. Here are my reasons:
- There is a real need for human bodies for medical training and research.
- I do not anticipate needing my body after I die.
- There will be no cost to my family; the ability to plan so my death will not require any funeral, cremation, or other disposal expenses is a good thing, in my opinion…I will be a skinflint even in death!
The range for the cost of a full funeral in the Austin, Texas area (I could find no such figures for DFW) was $2,600 to $7,200. That excludes a casket (which ranged in price from $600 to $3,500) and “related services.” According to the figures I found, those costs range, on average, from $4,000 to $8,000. I have nothing against funeral directors and others involved in the death industry; they serve a need and help people get through tough times. I would rather that kind of money be put to more productive use in the family, though. I hope my family and friends will get through the tough time by coming together to celebrate life!
I consider the last “act,” the use of one’s body for research and training that might save lives or make them more bearable, a better way to leave a legacy than serving as support for a headstone. Many people would disagree. I only hope the idea is at least given a bit of consideration.
I’m off my soapbox now.