Photos from the Daily Mail of coffins being buried in a mass pauper's grave in a suburb of Chicago.
The pauper's burial section at Homewood Memorial Gardens was established for those who could not afford to pay for a burial plot...The term "Potter's field" dates from Biblical times, and referred originally to a field used for the extraction of potter's clay, which rendered the area useless for agriculture but suitable as a burial site.
Tony Cox, the legislative chairman and former president of the Illinois Coroners and Medical Examiners Association, earlier told the Chicago Sun Times other cities, including New York, follow similar mass burial procedures for those with limited options. New York City Department of Corrections spokesman Stephen Morello referred to a burial site in Hart Island, New York, where 800,000 bodies lie.* Officials there, he said, follow the same procedure - stacking coffins with inmates' remains three deep.
Personally, I don't understand why it wouldn't be more practical, more sanitary, and probably less expensive, to cremate the remains.
* For more information on Hart Island, see the Al Jazeera video in the next post.
Not sure I'm impressed by the six inch burial depth. I'll just assume they pile six feet of dirt on top. Yeey.ReplyDelete
I AGREE 100% - "Personally, I don't understand why it wouldn't be more practical, more sanitary, and probably less expensive, to cremate the remains."ReplyDelete
There is actually a pretty good reason for this-- New York and Chicago have always had substantial Jewish populations, and cremation is against Jewish religious law.ReplyDelete
In the olden days, back when it was harder to identify dead bodies, city authorities decided not to risk cremating someone and then having their grieving family show up the next day asking for the body.
Ditto for most Christian groups.Delete
A quick google shows me the cost of cremation is about $400, so estimate actual cost as $200.ReplyDelete
I was a graduate student working in a funeral home in the 1960’s. A contract with the city designated our firm to bury the indigent. When deceased bodies went unclaimed at the city morgue, we received a call to secure and make arrangements for the body. We then placed the remains in a cloth-covered wooden box, and arranged burial in a section of the cemeteryReplyDelete
owned by the city (Ft. Worth, TX) and known as “The Pauper’s Plot.”
In those days, we buried one body to one grave.
Where in Fort Worth?Delete
Reply to Anonymous: At 74 years of age, my addled brain recalls the location of the "Paupers Plot" in the Trinity River bottoms. I remember that we could see the skyline of Ft. Worth from the plot.Delete
Putting in in the river bottoms is bad enough; I hope it wasn't too close to Joe T. Garcia's as well.Delete
I am often fascinated by the preoccupation with our bodies once our consciousness' have passed. I feel that many times it serves vanity and greed. Myself I wish to have a natural burial in my local green burial site so that I may serve the environment and become part of my local ecology.ReplyDelete
In addition to religious concerns, the decision to destroy what could be evidence -- whether of identity or crime -- can't be taken lightly.ReplyDelete
Even past the point of recognition, DNA is still retrievable years later.
Although I cannot imagine what would be involved in determining where in the pile a particular coffin had been placed, if it came to that.
In addition to what turtle says above, cremation is also forbidden by some Christian denominations, or only loosely tolerated— as it is for Catholics. Muslims also forbid cremation, partly on the belief that the body still feels after the soul has left it.ReplyDelete
A buddy working at a funeral home told me that cremation is really bad for the environment compared to a burial. Burning of the formaldehyde is just... badReplyDelete
every body that is cremated isn't embalmedDelete
Lorelei, I think they are only stacked 2-high until they arrange them into one layer on the bottom of the trench. It would be easier to lower them into the hole that way. By the way, I'm from Homewood! It's a nicer cemetery than the pictures make it appear--my uncle is out there somewhereReplyDelete
well thank you anonymous but the bodies actually aren't lowered by any device they are carried by two guys to the end of the burial site and then they go to the truck and get another one its not disrespectful and that is really the only part of the cemetery that people seem to talk about its not all the cemeteries fault its a business and these bodies need to get laid to rest and there are contracts the county knows what goes on and so does the cemetery owner as much as they make it seem like they dont know in the news they really doDelete
Anonymous said; "Burning of the formaldehyde is just... bad", but WHY would you embalm an unidentified corpse. When I die, I want to to cremated without embalming.ReplyDelete
I agree with Jesse W. Campbell. I have never understood why the disposal of the remains is such a big deal. I want my remains to be disposed of in the cheapest, most environmentally sound way available at the time of my demise. The time to celebrate someone and give them flowers is when they're alive.ReplyDelete
Re: embalming, Most morgues require the bodies be held for a month before burial or cremation, as the case may be. Also worthy of mention is that with the economy as it is more families cannot afford to bury loved ones, especially after a long expensive hospital stay and simply do not claim the bodies. Many morgues such as LA and Cook counties ate at double capacity and refrigeration is over-worked.ReplyDelete
I've been told that a good part of why there is such a backlog of cremations is that many crematoria are having to be re-fitted with new, larger incinerators. It seems that our current "super-sized" (ahem!) population is the problem: there is simply so much more fatty tissue in people's bodies now, compared to when the incinerators were designed, that they are burning far too hot for too long, in some cases actually burning down the building that houses the incinerator. I thought this was surely an urban myth, but apparently it is true.ReplyDelete
Anon, I've read or heard the same thing.ReplyDelete
This is a morbid discussion...ReplyDelete
I could care less what happens to my meat once I'm done walking around in it. Throw it on the nearest garbage heap. But, unless you're a life-long vegetarian, human meat is so full of toxic compounds (we're the top predator so all the toxins get concentrated up the pyramid) that "green" burial isn't possible. You wouldn't toss used motor oil into the garden, don't throw your adipose tissue in their either.ReplyDelete
I do not remember who said it, but I once heard someone say that life is nothing but misery and suffering, and then you die. There is much truth in that statement. What was left out was "then you die and are buried in a Potter's Field."ReplyDelete
I am not too worried about where I am buried. My last wish aside from not being made to suffer in a prolonged, agonising death, is to be buried with the cremated remains of my best friends--my dogs. The cherry on the cake, so to speak, would be if they tossed in all of my James Taylor CDs.
I also recall a quote by Hobbes that outside of society "life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Actually, in Capitalist economies, that is exactly what life is for most people.ReplyDelete