To cut to the chase - my parents told me when I went back East to visit them for Thanksgiving, this past November, that they are donating their bodies
to Ohio University college of Osteopathic Medicine, and they wanted me to sign their forms as the next of kin. I am in my mid-forties, and my parents
are just entering their seventies.
I have no problem with this, but the sudden announcement took some adjusting to, as do the realities that go along with that decision.
Body Donor Program - OU
The Body Donor Program enables people to donate their bodies,
following their death, to further medical education and research.
These selfless donations are invaluable to the training of future
physicians and other health care professionals.
According to the brochure and paperwork my folks wanted me to sign, the critical information is as follows:
-If the body donor dies within the state, the University will pick up the body and transport it to the University, with no cost to the family.
-If the body donor dies while outisde the state, as long as the body is transported to any location within the state (i.e. an airport), the Univeristy
will then pick up the body, and transfer it to the school from that point onwards.
-It takes up to 2 years following death, before the school is finishes with the remains.
-Once finished with the remains, what is left over is cremated.
-Normally, the cremains are then interred in an Ohio University owned special section of the cemetary. ONLY on request, the cremains can optionally
be sent to the next of kin.
-A special event is held annually, at the University, for survivors, honoring the body donors.
My folks presented me with this, and wanted to be sure to have me sign the next-of-kin forms before we departed at the end of the holiday. Their plan
was to go with the defaults, and didn't seem to consider much about how I would feel about all this, other than seeming to think that it would relive
me of the stress of dealing with funeral arrangements.
So. First, I had to deal with the idea that my parents will be dissected by University students. Ok, this is necessary for teaching medical science,
and I believe that the proceedings are done with as much respect as possible in a teaching situation. I feel ok about this.
Next, I wanted to know where my parents' final resting place is going to be. So, I asked them, "where is this special section of the cemetary?" I
assume it is in Athens, where Ohio University is located, which is not a very big town. I wanted to head over, while we were there, and just peruse
the area of the cemetary where the body donors are interred, so I would know where they would be, when all is said and done.
My Dad called the number on the brochure and spoke with someone involved with the program. As it turns out, the special section is not publicly
identified and the public can not visit it, even if you are a relative of a deceased body donor. He said there were far too many, and the cemetary
could not handle the traffic that would be involved. In truth, I got the impression that it is some kind of mass grave where all the cremains for
body donors are put. However, they emphasized the lovely reception/event that is held annually for the survivors. I live out of state, and don't
care much for dinners and events, so this was unappealing to me. I care far more to just *know* where the heck my parents will be interred! I am
extremely glad that I asked about this, and held out for the answer.
I balked, at this point, and told my parents I didn't want to sign the next of kin forms unless they chose the option to have the cremains sent to me
when the University is finished with them. We had a really wierd discussion about "what does it matter, we'll be gone at that point" and me saying
"if it doesn't matter to you, then why shouldn't I be able to at least get your cremains when the University is all finished and go scatter them in
Sedona or something?" and they conceded the point and changed their entrys on the forms to say that when their bodies are eventually cremated, the
cremains will be sent to me as the next of kin.
The entire situation was somewhat surreal, and certainly not what you expect over a Thanksgiving holiday. I kind of wanted to make a thread about it
right away, as it seems like an interesting enough topic that people would want to converse about it, but at the same time, I felt ambivalent about
posting about it, since it is a true story and personal to my own family.
We recently lost one of our beloved dogs, and we have been going through an awful time grieving for her. Today, we picked up her ashes from the Vet
and somehow this whole deal with my folks somehow seemed ok to post about, since I am now dealing emotionally with handling my doggie's remains. I
am having trouble imagining how I will deal a year or two after losing one of my parents, when I receive the box in the mail from Ohio University. At
the same time, I feel like it would be much worse to just have them gone and have no idea where they are. I know the body is just a shell, but...
these are shells that I CARE VERY MUCH ABOUT.
Is there anyone else out there in ATS whose parents (or other family members) have made legal directives for their bodies to be donated for medical
research? Have you struggled with the implications of this, as I have? Am I the only one with parents like this???? I love them so much, how can
they imagine that I would not care to know where they are?
Thanks in advance for your replies...