Freaky Funeral Forms
Do ''what'' to the dead?
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(permanent link) added: 2013-01-26 11:46:29 sponsor: MrInitialMan (last reply: 2014-08-05 00:14:16)

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When Due to the Dead becomes Do what to the dead?

This is when funereal practices are seen as strange.

One possibility is when a culture's funereal practices are seen as bizarre or even repulsive to someone not of that culture. The outsider may reject or come to accept these practices. This is basically Due to the Dead meets:

The inverse of the above (which also fits here) is when someone wants a funeral that's strange according to the deceased's own culture—either due to eccentricity or as a final Take That to one and all.

Examples

Literature
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In The House Of Black And White in Braavos, the suicidal come into the House and drink from a poison. Acolytes of The Many Faced God, a personification of death, strip the bodies of valuables and clothing before delivering them to the lowest level of the building where their faces are removed and stored for Faceless Men assassins to assume as disguises. Arya Stark, traumatized and emotionally deadened before she came to Braavos, is desensitized to the dead but is shocked to discover exactly what becomes of them.

  • In one Circle of Magic book, the Gyongxin practice of "sky burial" is essentially the same thing as the air burial practice noted under Real Life, although with less funerary rites by necessity due to the large amount of battlefield dead. Although Briar accepts the explanation, he's still very discomfited by the sight of friends and comrades being eaten by vultures.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of Bones Brennan tells Booth her plans for when she's dead: She wants to be delivered to a certain place where her body will be dismembered by hammers in order to be eaten by vultures. After Booth objects, she modifies her will so that she will be creamated and her ashes sprinkled into a volcano.
  • In Slings and Arrows Oliver's will asks for his skull to be used in all of the theater's future productions of Hamlet Although this is not unheard of for actors in Real Life, it leaves Geoffrey with the difficult task of carrying out the wishes. First he has to convince the morticians that he's not crazy and Oliver really asked for this, then once they concede it turns out they can only remove the head and don't have the equipment to clean off the skull forcing Geoffrey to take the severed head, in an ice cooler, to a taxidermist to finish the job.

  • Vikings "Burial of the Dead": Athelstan is more than a little perturbed as part of Earl Haraldson's funeral, a slave girl has sex with several men to send their goodwill along with her, then her throat is slit and her body is placed on the Earl's pyre for his Viking Funeral.

  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Ferengi funeral customs involve freeze-drying the body, placing the resultant powder into sealed plastic disks, and selling it as a collectible. This strikes the humans on the station as somewhat disconcerting.
Table Top Games
  • Warhammer 40K: the Kroot practice cannibalism on both the enemy and their dead, which tends to unnerve people (including their allies, the Tau).
    • Also in Warhammer 40K, the Space Marines harvest the bioengineered organs they are implanted with during training from their dead, for re-use. Some ignorant commoners mistake the practice for cannibalism. While on Hive Worlds "soylens viridians" is a frequent staple food.
  • In the D&D adventure module "Night's Dark Terror", a gnollish cemetery is full of gnoll corpses strung up on tall posts for birds to scavenge on. The scene is played for creepiness, at least from the POV of non-gnoll adventurers.

Video Games
  • Diablo II: The Druid's line as he enteres the Monastery Graveyard is "Planting the dead... how odd."

Webcomics
  • In Digger, Digger finds the idea of skinning the dead and preserving their skins shocking, but realizes she has no other way to "bury" Ed.
    • Also from Digger is the hyenas' practice of funereal cannibalism (specifically, the liver), which is not only repulsive but actually harmful to her, as she's an herbivore.

Real Life
  • Ancient Egyptian mummification was regarded as morbid and strange by most Greek writers of the day. Conversely, Egyptians of that era found Greek cremation rites equally bizarre/dubious.

  • "I request a Satanic burial!" - ritual magician and mountebank Aleister Crowley had one final shock left for the world. At his funeral service in 1948, which was held at a municipal crematorium in Hastings, Sussex, his last few faithful followers held a funeral according to their own devising. "The Rite of Pan" was performed - essentially a libation to a rather priapic God - and excitable reporting had it that a Black Mass had been held to deconsecrate a nominally Christian place (the crematorium chapel). Hastings Council announced it was taking steps to ensure that any service held on its premises was to be pre-vetted and approved, and anything held not to be in keeping with approved religious services, or else held to be offensive to public morals, would not be allowed.

  • Values Dissonance applies. Many people are shocked, disgusted or at least rendered uncomfortable by the least common form of funeral on Earth: air burial. Practiced by older religions and communities such as Zoroastrians, and formerly by some Native Americans, this involves leaving the body of the deceased in the open in a high place to be eaten by foraging carrion birds and animals (and thus, as with other forms of burial, to return naturally to the Earth. eventually.) The funeral is still done with respectful rites of passage, and proponents argue this is in its essentials no different from burial in earth or at sea, in that the body will still be recycled and returned to the ecology. it is also held to be less wasteful of resources than cremation - which allows for nothing returning to the ecology and which consumes energy via materials needed for burning.

  • Sir Charles James Napier, the Commander-in-Chief in India, had this response when Hindu priests complained about the British ban on sati (in which a widow is burned on her husband's funeral pyre)
    Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.

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