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Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies?



Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies? provides the answers to the questions about corpses that professionals and layman alike want to, but were afraid to ask: What really does happen to a body after death? What does our culture do with corpses and what have other cultures done? How does a body really turn to dust? What happens during autopsies, dissection, embalming, cremation, and cryogenic preservation? How do we transport bodies and what does a medical examiner really do? How about the more bizarre uses for corpses, such as cannibalism, body snatching, and use in the secret rites of various cultures? In more than 800 pages, this book gives the latest information on organ and tissue donation and the arcane and secretive world of the funeral industry. We rarely speak about death—because it is the pornography of our culture and we know so little about it. This book sheds some light into dark corners of our society and proves that, once again, truth is stranger than fiction.
Iserson KV: Death To Dust: What Happens To Dead Bodies? Second Edition
Galen Press, Ltd. Tucson, AZ, 2001, 821 pages.
More than 2,000 References
1. Dying to Know: Introduction.
A. Why write this book? B. How is this book organized? C. How can you use the information in this book?
2: I'm Dead-Now What?
A. Why do people die? B. What is death? C. What is death by brain criteria? D. How is death by brain criteria determined? ,
E. Is persistent vegetative state the same as death by brain criteria? F Who can pronounce me dead? G. What is a death certificate,
who can sign it, and what does it cost? H. How will they know I'm really dead? I. When have physicians erred in pronouncing death?
J. Are there real cases of premature burials? K. What precautions have been taken to prevent premature burial? L. Who was buried
alive intentionally? M. What can happen to my body when I die? N. What will happen to my body when I die? O. How does my name
get in the newspaper?
3: Help for the Living: Organ, Tissue, &Whole-BodyDonation
A. What is organ and tissue donation and transplantation? B. Why donate organs and tissues? C. Who donates cadaver
organs and tissues in the United States? D. Who donates cadaver organs and tissues elsewhere in the world? E. Who actually
becomes an organ and tissue donor? E How do I become an organ/tissue donor? G. What do religions,law, and cultures say about
postmortem organ/tissue donation or transplantation? H. Can I donate blood after death? I. What are the steps in postmortem organ
and tissue donations? J. How are organs and tissues procured? K. How are donor organs and tissues distributed? L. Do families
know where the organs go? Do recipients know where the organs came from? M. What happens to the body after donation? N.
What does it cost to donate organs? Can I donate my whole body to a medical school? P. By what other means have bodies
become dissection cadavers? Q. How else have bodies been obtained for dissection? R. Have “dead" criminals been used for
anatomical dissection? S. How are bodies prepared as dissection cadavers? T. Why dissect cadavers? U. How do medical
students dissect cadavers? V. In what other ways do doctors and researchers use dead bodies?
4: The Autopsy: My Body and the Pathologist.
A. What is a morgue and how long will my body be there? . B How do nurses prepare bodies for the morgue? C. What if I
die at home? D. What is an autopsy and who performs it? E. Why do autopsies? F. Will I have an autopsy? G. Who gives
permission for an autopsy? H. After an autopsy, can I still be embalmed? ,I. Why doesn’t everyone get autopsied? J. How is an
autopsy done? K. How do autopsy techniques vary? L. Are autopsies harmful to pathologists? M. What is a medical
examiner/coroner? :N. How long have physicians been doing medicolegal autopsies? O. What is special about a medicolegal
autopsy? P. Why is an autopsy done on a decomposing or dismembered body? Q. How can a person be identified from partial or
decomposed remains? R. What happens if they cannot identify my body? S. How is the time of death determined? T. What
happens to the organs, tissues, and medical devices examined at autopsy? U. What is an exhumation? V. What happens to
miscarried fetuses and stillborn infants? W. What are common religious views about autopsies? X. How do I get the autopsy
report? Y What does an autopsy cost?
5: Beauty in Death
A. What do undertakers do? B. What does a funeral director do? C. Who is included in the funeral industry? D. What
training do embalmers have? E. What are some funeral industry buzzwords? E How do funeral homes differ? G. What are some
traditional preparation rites for bodies? H. What is embalming? I. Why embalm a body? J. What is natural embalming? K. How has
intentional embalming occurred in the past? L. How did modem embalming develop? M. How is a body prepared for embalming? N.
What is restoration? O. How are cosmetics used on the corpse? P: What restoration techniques are used for organ and tissue
donors? Q. How is a body embalmed today? R. Are embalming and restoration always successful? S. How is a body prepared for
viewing? T. What is postmortem photography? U. How does a mummy differ from an embalmed body? How were mummies
intentionally prepare? W How have the living used mummies? X. Are there any modem mummies? Y. Can all bodies be embalmed?
Z. Must all bodies be embalmed? AA. What are religious &: legal attitudes toward embalming? AB. How much does embalming
6:The EternaI Flame
A. What is cremation? B. What is direct cremation? C. How long has cremation been used? D. Why did our ancestors
cremate bodies? E. How did modem society reinstitute cremation? E Why use cremation today? G. Who uses cremation? H. Can
any body be cremated? I. Is a casket or coffin required for cremation? J. Can any casket or coffin be cremated? K. What are
crematoria? Where are they located? L. What are columbaria? , M. What kind of ceremony accompanies cremation? N. What are
cremation rituals in other countries? O. Can my family observe the cremation? P: What happens to the body during cremation? Q.
How long does it take to cremate a body? R. What is left after cremation? S. Are these really my ashes? T. What is typically done
with the ashes? U. May I bury the ashes? V. Where may the ashes be scattered? W What are urns and cremation memorials? X.
What unusual dispositions have been used for cremains? Y. Are there problems with cremation in foreign countries? Z. What do
various religions say about cremation? AA. What is the funeral industry's response to cremation? AB. How much does cremation
7:Souls on lce
A. What is cryonic suspension? B. Whose were the first bodies frozen? C. What is the scientific view of cryonic
preservation? D. Can any body be frozen? E. How is a body frozen? E How does nature freeze bodies? G. Could I just have my
brain frozen? H. How secure would my frozen body be? I. What are the prospects of successfully reviving a cryonically frozen
body? J. Should I believe in cryonics? K. What are new cryonics alternatives? L. What problems would there be if I were
reanimated? M. How rich would I be if I were reanimated? N. What are religious &: legal attitudes toward cryonics? O. Who are
cryonauts? P. How much does cryonic preservation cost?
8:Wayward Bodies
A. What happens to bodies exposed to the environment? B. Will the "worms crawl in"? C. Do other animals eat corpses?
D. How long does it take for an exposed body to turn to dust? E. Will embalming prevent decay? F. May I be buried at sea? G. How
are bodies buried at sea? H. What happens to a body interred in water? I. Are bodies buried at sea eaten by fish? : J. Must a boat
be used for a water burial? K. Why do dead bodies float? L. What will happen to bodies adrift in space? M. Why steal corpses for
anatomical study? N. Why else were corpses stolen? O. How were corpses stolen? E How were graves protected? Q. Who were
some infamous body snatchers? R. Was corpse stealing common in the United States? S.' What happened to captured
graverobbers? T. When were "graverobbed" bodies not dead? U. Are corpses still stolen? V. May be buried in foreign soil? W How
and why are corpses transported across international borders? X. How are bodies or ashes transported into the United States? Y.
How are bodies or ashes transported by air? Z. Are there problems transporting bodies or ashes across state lines? AA. Will I be an
archaeological find?
9: Nightmares
A. What is cannibalism? B. When has cannibalism provided a necessary source of food? C. How was cannibalism used to
acquire powers and satisfy gods? D. What kind of rituals honored dead relatives or enemies? E. How was cannibalism used for
revenge? E Has cannibalism been practiced recently? G. Why hunt or shrink heads? H. Why shrink bodies? I. How is a shrunken
head prepared? J. What is stripping the flesh? K. When else have animals been used to devour the dead? L. Why is a body
systematically dismembered after death? M. What else was done with criminals' bodies? , N. How else are body parts used? O.
What is necrophilia? P What is necrophobia? Q. Have people been sacrificed to serve the dead? R. How were corpses supposed to
help or harm the living? S. What other unusual uses are there for dead bodies?
10: Going Out in Style
A. How are the dead used in ceremonies? B. What is necromancy? C. What is awake? D. What is a viewing? E. Who
gets to "lie in state?" F. Who gets a parade? G. What happens to corpses of famous religious figures? H. What happens to
corpses of monarchs and presidents? I. What happens to corpses of other famous people? J. How have corpses served as
political symbols?
11: Black Tie Affairs
A. Why have a funeral? B. How do various religions' funerals differ? C. How do various cultures' funerals differ? D. Can
someone have a custom funeral? E. What do corpses wear? E What is funeral music? G. What are funerals like in times of crisis?
H. What happens to bodies on the battlefield? I. What is a coffin? J. What is a casket? K. How do I purchase a casket? L. Do
caskets prevent body decay? M. Can coffins be reused? N. In what other types of containers are bodies buried? O. Should I have
an open- or closed-casket funeral? P. What is proper funeral etiquette? Q. Can I have a funeral if I will be cremated or frozen or if
my body was lost? R. What is a memorial service? S. What is direct burial or cremation? T. What do funerals cost? U. What
regulations govern funeral operations and costs? V: How do I pay for a funeral? W How are preneed funerals marketed? X, How
could preneed plans be improved? Y. How does the body get to the burial site? Z. How can I obtain additional information about
l2.From Earth to Earth
A, Why bury a body? B. What choices are there for burial? C. What are potter's fields? D. When are bodies buried in mass
graves? E. Why bury corpses with a specific orientation to the earth? F. Can I be buried if I was cremated? G. Can only part of me
be buried? H. How much do burials cost? I. Why not bury a body? J. Why"unbury"abody? K. When are famous corpses exhumed?
L. What is a cemetery? M. What is a memorial park? N. Who may use veterans cemeteries? O. How are cemeteries planned? P.
How do I buy a cemetery lot? Q. What is a gravedigger’s job? R. How permanent are individual graves? S. How permanent are
cemeteries? T. What are grave liners, lawn crypts, and burial vaults? U. How were early graves marked? V. What types of grave
markers are available today? W. What is an epitaph? X. U.S. veterans get free gravemarkers? Y. What are catacombs? Z. What is a
mausoleum? AA. What are the differences among tombs, sepulchers, crypts, & sarcophagi? AB. What laws &: religious restrictions
govern burial in cemeteries. AC. What is a memorial society?
13: A Hand from the Grave
A. What will my disposal do to the environment? B. How can my body best be preserved? C. Who owns my body after
death? , D. Can a corpse be held for nonpayment of debts? E. Do I have a choice about what happens to me after death? E What
are advance directives and can they include after-death instructions? G. Body-Disposal Instructions and Discussion Guide. H.
Costing it out: average cost of postmortem activities.
14: Say It Gently: Words, Sayings, &' Poetry about the Dead
A. Twenty-Second World Medical Assembly. B. Ad Hoc Committee of Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of
Brain Death, 1968 C. Uniform Determination of Death Act. D. Universal Determination of Death Statute (Proposed) E. Uniform
Anatomical Gift Act (U.S.) E Embalmers Classification: Types of Corpses. G. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations for the Retum
of RemainstotheU.S. H Federal Trade Commission's "Funeral Rule," 16 C.ER. §453 I. Selected Independent Funeral Homes Code
of Good Funeral Practice. Glossary. Index.
... or even one thousand years ago, illustrating the similar steps taken to preserve a body (Iserson, 1994). s alluded to earlier, there has been health concerns regarding the safety of embalming and the chemicals used in the process. ...
... However, it soon became clear that embalming a body would not prevent contraction of diseases, simply because dead bodies are not likely to spread diseases. Instead, a new caution arose concerning the use of embalming fluidsnamely formaldehyde, which is the primary chemical agent used in the embalming process (Iserson, 1994). ...
... Social factors for cemetery location are related to accessibility (connections with the local community). Cemeteries were once part of community structure; they now exist as separate entities far removed from daily life (Thomas, 1980;Iserson, 1994;Larkin, 2011;Shaker Ardekani, Akhgar and Zabihi, 2015). Deemed essential to the social infrastructure of communities, cemeteries need to be established in accessible locations to meet the needs of the populations they serve (Larkin, 2011). ...
Full-text available
Valorisation of land is an important tool for countries around the world to help regulate land use planning and ensure sustainable development. Cemeteries are multifaceted spaces, providing a keystone community infrastructure. Poorly located cemeteries can generate adverse environmental, landscape and community outcomes. Identifying optimal sites for cemeteries will become an increasing concern for land use planners as population numbers and consequent death rates increase while the amount of available land decreases. This study was conducted with the aim of proposing multi-criteria analysis for identifying some optimal sites for cemeteries. This analysis was implemented in Białystok (297,585 inhabitants, in Podlaskie Voivodeship, Poland), where 11 potential areas for the location of a new cemetery were assessed. Through a comprehensive process of investigation, engagement, and analysis, four options in different locations were identified as suitable for further consideration. Two sites (options 7 and 11) had fatal flaws – high risk and effects associated with development and were not recommended to be taken forward.
... Micro-abrasions: Trophy skulls from the WWII era were processed by boiling, treatment with lye, or by being dragged in nets behind ships in the Pacific Ocean (Iserson 2001;Scott 1962). Three of the trophy skulls (12.5%) showed evidence of micro-abrasions, which likely occurred when the remains were scrubbed to remove soft tissues (Figure 8.13). ...
This chapter analyzes three common categories of culturally altered human skeletal remains that often come under forensic analysis: former anatomical teaching specimens, ritual remains, and trophy remains (the body part souvenir from a vanquished enemy). Common taphonomic effects for identifying former anatomical teaching specimens include cranial vault and other sectioning, attached hardware, drilling, labeling, maceration bleaching, reconstruction/gluing, signs of handling, such as patina formation and shelf wear, and signs of later repurposing as a display object. Ritual remains are often borrowed from other contexts (cemeteries or anatomical specimens), thus retaining those earlier taphonomic effects, and can be associated with cultural artifacts from the specific practice of Palo Mayombe: cauldrons, nonhuman remains, beads, stones, crucifixes, plant materials, mercury, and metal objects that include coins, chains, railroad spikes, and keys. Trophy remains were commonly collected during WWII in the Pacific theater and the Vietnam War and can retain multiple alterations related to their acquisition (perimortem trauma and the taphonomic effects from exposure and maceration/cleaning; preparation for display (writing/marking, coating, and mounting); and handling/curation (shelf wear, patina, dust buildup, and staining). The chapter also examines the history of the use of anatomical remains, the religious practices of Palo Mayombe, and the context of trophy-taking in recent historical times.
... There are three special circumstances in which withholding emergency medical treatment is generally accepted: in an obviously dead patient (Iserson 2001), in disaster/battlefield triage (Iserson and Moskop 2007), and in situations that are dangerous for the providers (Iserson and Heine 2016). "Obviously dead" refers to patients with rigor mortis, dependent lividity, or who have been charred beyond recognition or decapitated. ...
On any given day, the remains of countless deceased migrants are shipped around the world to be buried in ancestral soils. Others are laid to rest in countries of settlement, sometimes in cemeteries established for religious and ethnic minorities, where available. For immigrants and their descendants, perennial questions about the meaning of home and homeland take on a particular gravitas in death. When the boundaries of a nation and its members are contested, burial decisions are political acts. Building on multi-sited fieldwork in Berlin and Istanbul – where the author worked as an undertaker – Dying Abroad offers a moving and powerful account of migrants' end-of-life dilemmas, vividly illustrating how they are connected to ongoing political struggles over the stakes of citizenship, belonging, and collective identity in contemporary Europe.
This chapter examines concepts and criteria of death and the coherence of their associations. Concepts of death fall into two broad categories: non-ontological and ontological. Non-ontological concepts include death as a cluster kind and death as a process; the corresponding criteria are stipulative, based on pragmatic concerns. Ontological concepts are essentially either psychological (cessation of “personhood,” equated with capacity for thinking and self-awareness) or biological (cessation of the human organism). The psychological concept corresponds to a “higher brain” criterion, namely irreversible, permanent nonfunction (destruction) of bilateral thalami (the sufficiency of neocortical destruction alone being uncertain); anatomically broader criteria are sufficient but not necessary. The biological concept corresponds to a criterion of irreversible, permanent cessation of circulation of oxygenated blood (irreversible cessation of brain function being necessary but not sufficient). Irreversible apneic unconsciousness is best understood not as a concept of death but as a stipulative criterion. Concepts of life and death and their corresponding criteria derive from fundamental worldviews, on which there has been no consensus for over two millennia, nor is there likely ever to be. Respect for deeply held fundamental worldviews requires allowance for personal specification of circulatory or brain-based criteria.
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In an age where concern for the environment is paramount, individuals are continuously looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint—does this now extend to in one’s own death? How can one reduce the environmental impact of their own death? This paper considers various methods of disposing the human body after death, with a particular focus on the environmental impact that the different disposal techniques have. The practices of ‘traditional’ burial, cremation, ‘natural’ burial, and ‘resomation’ will be discussed, with focus on the prospective introduction of the funerary innovation of the alkaline hydrolysis of human corpses, trademarked as ‘Resomation’, in the United Kingdom. The paper situates this process within the history of innovative corpse disposal in the UK in order to consider how this innovation may function within the UK funeral industry in the future, with reference made to possible religious perspectives on the process.
Cryopreservation is an age-old technology which was practised in different forms. It has evolved from preserving cells in snow to liquid nitrogen. As necessity is the mother of invention, the need for mankind invents new technologies. Cryopreservation is also such a technology which helped increasing the livestock production. It is a technology which made human sperm bank and stem cell storage possible. In this chapter, various historical developments of cryopreservation in all fields of life science with special emphasis on fisheries are discussed.
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