Stinky Sewers & Raging Reviews | 4M #78
Welcome to the seventy-eighth edition of Morticians’ Monday Morning Mashup, 4M #78, where we’ll serve up bite-sized, easily-digestible nuggets of the deathcare news you need to crush conversations in the week ahead. Bon appetit!
Not sewer gas
An Illinois woman retrieving Christmas decorations from a hidden storage space in her home found more than a tote full of tinsel last December. Instead, she found the mummified body of her husband, who she had reported missing in April 2022. Autopsy results, which were only recently released, indicate that the man had died of suicide and no foul play was suspected. Questions have arisen, though, as to how the family didn’t recognize the smell of decomposition before the body dried up and became mummified. Reports indicate that they actually did call a plumber when they smelled a sewage-like odor; the plumber capped a basement pipe and the odor eventually subsided. It didn’t help that the residence was a little cluttered as well; police described it as a “hoarder home.”
Speaking of long-forgotten bodies …
On March 1, California authorities raided a warehouse owned by an unlicensed crematorium; inside they found six bodies and 154 sets of cremains from 15 different California counties. The raid occurred after being alerted on February 28 that Oceanview Cremations was operating, albeit unsatisfactorily and with terrible Yelp reviews, despite their license being suspended in March 2018. Families of the deceased were surprised; they had either assumed the remains of their loved ones had been cremated or scattered per their requests. Others had tried to follow up with the status of their family members’ cremains but never received a response from the owner.
A man recently researching his family history contacted a UK funeral home to find out where his grandmother was buried or where her cremains had been scattered after her 1967 death. As it turns out, neither had occurred; his granny’s cremains were still at the funeral home because the family couldn’t decide on what to do with them. Fifty-six years later, it’s apparently still a conundrum, as the funeral director reports that when he called the man and asked him if the family had decided what they’d like to do, he replied, “No not yet, we’re still thinking about it.”
Last week, Southern Illinois University (SIU) Carbondale, one of only six U.S. schools offering a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science and funeral services, became the only university with its own in-house crematorium. Classes using the crematorium will be “led by trained and certified crematory operator faculty.” SIU will also use the retort for the cremation of bodies designated as abandoned per local coroners, although its services will not be available to the public or local funeral homes.
Legislation in the works
Several states are on the verge of legalizing the two “newest” forms of disposition: natural organic reduction and alkaline hydrolysis:
- In Texas, “Senate Bill 105’s goal is to add alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation, to the state’s definition of what cremation can entail.”
- A pending Rhode Island bill would “allow ‘human composting’ as an alternative to burial or cremation.”
- Illinois “considers legalizing ‘human composting’” even as “critics doubt its dignity.”
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