Guest Expressed: “Death – But Not As We Know It”

Today Kevin Ewing shows us why death doesn’t have to be “boring” (in case that’s your biggest death-related fear). Enter Kevin:

Shuffling from this mortal coil is always going to be a bit of a downer. That said, it is one of life’s certainties, along with Simon Cowell’s hair style. So why not do a little research and prepare for your final moment. Historically there are plenty of interesting ways to go…

Hara Kiri

Hara Kiri or Seppuku is probably one of the more well-known methods for departing the shores of life, especially for anyone who watches samurai movies. It actually refers to the act of committing an honourable suicide. Beating the hooded fellow with the scythe to the punch and leaving on your own terms via this method was seen as a good thing to do, especially when the alternative was being captured by an enemy or a life of unconquerable shame.

The process involved wearing your best white robes, eating a fine meal and then being presented with your own weapon. At this point the shamed samurai would write a death poem. During the ritual he would be accompanied by a second, sort of like when Kenickie asks Danny to be his second for the Thunder Road race in Grease. He would ensure things ran smoothly. Poem finished, the samurai would open his robes and slice his abdomen from left-to-right wide open. His second would then perform daki-dabu, essentially a mega-blow with a sword that would decapitate the warrior. Gulp.

Sky Burial

Once dead the options afforded to you are more vast than you could possible imagine, though obviously it is unlikely you’ll have the last say, unless the ceremony has been willed. Anyway, if you want to prepare a fine and interesting funeral-esque activity that really does make cremation and regular burial seem somewhat conservative.

Sky burial sees your remains given over to the wing as you are spread far and wide. The process is almost exclusively Tibetan and is a ritual dissection. The corpse once trimmed into bite-sized chucks is mixed with barley flour tea and yak butter and then left on a mountain side. From there you’re redistributed at the whims of the weather and in particular vultures.

As an aside Hunter S. Thompson requested something similar, except it was a little more American. His remains were fired out of a huge cannon that was placed on a 153-foot tower built especially for the occasion. This was done against a backdrop of fireworks and all to the Norman Greenbaum track “Spirit in the Sky”. The event was paid for by his close friend Johnny Depp.

Self-Mummification

This takes serious dedication. And as a testament to this it is believed that less than 25 instances have ever been performed. A specific order of Buddhist monks took control of their final exits through a process of self-mummification that took an immense amount of preparation.

It began by eating nothing but nuts and seeds accompanied with plenty of strenuous exercise. This was done for three years to ensure there was zero fat on the body. After that three more years eating bark and roots with poisonous tea. I’m not kidding. This caused vomiting and the loss of fluid with the added bonus of making your own body poisonous to eat, thus thwarting those pesky maggots that like nothing better than a fresh corpse. After what must have been a torturous six years the monk finally locked himself in a tiny stone tomb while sat in the Lotus Position. The only access to the outside world was a tube for air and a bell. Each day the monk would ring the bell once, indicating to his pals he wasn’t quite dead. When the bell stopped ringing, those same pals sealed the tomb.

Well if you’ve got-to-go you’ve got-to-go, so why not do it with a little panache? To be honest though I’ve not really convinced myself… I think I might start researching the Holy Grail instead…

Kevin Ewing has a bit of a thing for the macabre, but for the most part keeps it in check.

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