Burying of the dead was invented as far back as 3000 BCE, in the stone age. It was said to be first used in Europe and became the most common method of disposing dead bodies by 800 BCE in Greece and 600 BCE in Rome. Other societies followed other methods: in ancient Israel, tombs were used for burial and cremation was shunned, even the early Christian church rejected cremations, bodies were embalmed in Egypt, they were buried in China. Later on when Christianity become the official religion of the Roman Empire, burial was the only method followed throughout Europe.
With so much significance attached to the disposal of bodies, the new way of bidding goodbye to the dead can prove to be shocking to most people – dissolving their bodies in lye and flushing the brown syrupy residue down the drain.
This process of flushing down dead bodies is called alkaline hydrolysis and was first started in the United States 16 years ago, when it was used to dispose off, animal corpses in big steel cylinders that were like steam cookers.
These new inventions are not used by any funeral homes in the US or anywhere else in the world. In fact, they are used by only two medical centers in the US to dispose human bodies, and that too on cadavers that are used for research.
The funeral industry feels that this method of disposal of human bodies has several environmental advantages and someday in the future, this may very well be used more than even cremation or burial.
According to the newsletter Funeral Service insider, “it’s not often that a truly game-changing technology comes along in the funeral service. We might have gotten hold of one.”
These types of disposal were mostly used in history by dictators and psychopaths, where they used lye or acid to erase their victims.
The biggest challenge they feel, is going to be, getting the public to accept this mode of disposal. This will be considered by many as a ghastly and inhuman way of giving the final farewell to loved ones.
In essence, burying or burning the dead in almost all religions is seen not just as a way of disposing the remains of a dead body, but as honoring the dead and sending them to the other world in the most befitting manner possible. This is also the reason why precious jewels were left on the bodies by our ancestors.
Alkaline hydrolysis is legal in Minnesota as well as in New Hampshire, and a Manchester funeral director has every intention of offering this service. He still has to get all the approvals required. This process takes about three hours and in addition to the liquid, it leaves a dry bone residue, which is similar in appearance and color to the normally cremated remains. These remains could be returned to the family in an urn or even buried in the cemetery.
The leftover coffee colored liquid looks like motor oil and has a strong ammonia smell. Since it is sterile, they say that it can be poured down the drain.
Experts are of the opinion that the fact that alkaline hydrolysis does not take up much space even in the cemeteries, as much as burial and also this will alleviate crematorium emissions, including carbon dioxide and mercury from dental filling, is something that needs to be considered.
The pain of losing a loved one makes people want to give them the best even in their final journey. The general feeling would certainly be one of shock and this is something not many people can accept.