A company in Sweden came up with an ingenious way to send people to the afterlife, so to speak: freeze and pulverize. Their method is also ecological and relatively easy to accept and understand.
The company is Promessa Organic AB; according to their presentation, this ecological burial method was based on techniques that prepare the body for the decomposition process. Promessa says that the procedure does not put the body through destructive or violent treatment. Well, other than freezing it in liquid nitrogen and pulverizing it, that is.
According to Promessa head of operations, biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, the method avoids the embalming fluid, while the body can really return “to dust”, becoming part of the ecological cycle in the form of dried powder. The body is frozen at -18 degrees Celsius a week and a half after death, and then it will be submerged in liquid nitrogen.
The brittle-frozen body will be turned by using vibrations of certain amplitude into organic powder, which will be dried out in a vacuum chamber. The powder will then be cleaned of surgical elements, and it can also be disinfected if needed. When the process is finalized, the dust is deposited in a corn-starch coffin, which is biodegradable.
The powder is odorless and hygienic, and it can be stored for a very long time. However, in order to avoid its degradation, it must be kept in a dry ambient. This type of burial comes with other “perks”, if they can be called that. The grave does not need to be the classical 6-feet deep, dark, depressing hole in the ground. The organic powder can be buried in a shallow grave and serve as nutrient for a tree, flower-nest or bush, according to the wishes of the deceased or of the family. In about a year, the powder and the coffin it is stored in will become compost for another form of life, as chosen.
The tree or bush will become a symbol of the deceased, offering families and dear ones comfort. At the same time, another potential psychological effect would be an improved sense of respect for nature and ecology in people, seeing as one of the dearly beloved is now an obvious part of the cycle.
Who Makes the Decision?
Of course, the question of who decides what happens to us once we die floats in the air. The Swedish Association of Parishes published a guide in 2003 that answers such questions and offers a step by step guide for arranging funerals, as well as actions that must or can be taken beforehand. The information is supported by relevant legislation.
In the guide, the Association included a form, in which a person can express their wishes in relation to their death, and the ecological burial is one of the presented alternatives. As such, someone who wishes to become a tree in their next life can opt for the burial method proposed by Promessa, and they can avoid families and friends making interpretation or apply personal beliefs and preference.
The ecological burial might appeal to a great many people, from science geeks to Wicca practitioners and environmentalists, for the former through the preparation, for the latter through the effects.