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Surprise!! We (your parents) are donating our bodies to medical research...

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posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 09:44 PM
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...

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 09:56 PM
link funeral. It may be worth looking into this. Since it would cost a fortune to get approval for them just to stick me in the pet cemetery. It seems the cheapest funeral is three grand, not really a funeral at all, just costs of disposing of the body.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 10:03 PM
reply to post by rickymouse

Hi Rickymouse - not free funeral but free disappearance is more like how I took it. From one perspective (the one my folks were thinking from) it would be a relief for the family - no funeral expenses, etc. From my point of view though, it felt like the main idea is that my parents would be just wiped off the slate.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 10:09 PM
...not to mention this vision I have in my head where Mom and Dad are pulled out of their drawers every now and then to be CUT on and... CUT up... Over and over, until the University can't get any more use out of their bodies.

We are talking about my MOM AND DAD.

It seems so much easier to get my head around in theory when talking about donating bodies to science, than it is to think about the reality that this is GOING TO HAPPEN to my own parents.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 10:14 PM
reply to post by gwynnhwyfar

My mother gave her body to science before she died. My dad chose to just be cremated.

I remember sitting in the nursing room, holding her icy hand.

Her puffed up belly ready to burst with her begging to be killed; The medicine with nowhere to go as the cancer had prevented her vital organs from functioning.

I remember thinking in my head "I hope they learn something", because by everything I'd seen I certainly had.

I had no problem with them taking her away. The only thing I regret is not smothering her with a pillow and be done with it.

Don't diss on the program. It provides many poor families with a way to feel useful yet also pays for the cremation and peace of mind.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 10:22 PM
reply to post by OrphanApology

I'm so sorry! I had a relative who had stomach cancer and it was similarly awful towards the end. I wish your Mother did not suffer so much, and I'm not suggesting anything regarding decicions for end of life legal options ==> I meant this thread only to address how we family members deal with how we will manage emotionally with decicions we have made with and for body donators which will occur AFTER the end of life.

edit on 8-0220142-1414 by gwynnhwyfar because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 10:29 PM
I haven't gone through this with my parents but, personally, and I'm only in my mid-30's, I've already decided what I want done with my body:

Body Farm

The methods of travel of the body and costs and such are similar to what you mention above, as are the next-of-kin forms and what will be done, eventually, with the cremains.

For me, I don't really want to be cremated or buried. I'd rather be just thrown outside somewhere. The body farm is the best I could come up with. And, as with the university/medical-study option, the body farm also cremates upon completion of study.

I think it's a good and responsible thing to prepare for the aftermath of your death. As much as people don't like talking or even thinking about it.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 10:31 PM
reply to post by gwynnhwyfar

Okay, I understand.

We all die and disappear.

Get over it.

Or you could find out a way to own your parents DNA.

Just an idea.

I could help you figure that one out, let me know.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 10:52 PM
reply to post by kalunom

I think it is much easier to "decide what we want done" with our bodies than it is to realize that what we decide may cause our children to suffer. In my case, this would be the naive assumption that I would not care to know where my parents' remains will be interred.

We have to ask ourselves if our children's opinions matter, in this regard. I would argue "Yes". Many people will probably say that they don't care what happens to their bodies after they depart the mortal plane, so if that is the case, why not help your kids deal with their loss of you, as best you can?

Our kids are the ones who will be left behind to mourn us, to remember us, and unfortunately, to suffer on our behalf what we are no longer here to suffer.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 10:53 PM

reply to post by gwynnhwyfar

Okay, I understand.

We all die and disappear.

Get over it.

Or you could find out a way to own your parents DNA.

Just an idea.

I could help you figure that one out, let me know.

"Get over it." Is not very helpful.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 11:01 PM
reply to post by gwynnhwyfar

You make a fair point. And, yes, I would consider that my child's opinion matters (though she is far too young to understand yet). I guess it comes down to who gets the 'honors'. I'm not trying to be crude there, just - should it be you who honors your parents' decision or them to honor your wishes?

That's between you and your family. It's just my belief that it is better to start to sort through these things (as you are) before the inevitable happens.

Best wishes.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 11:06 PM
reply to post by gwynnhwyfar

I can see why you'd struggled with such a thing.

The important thing to remember is that your parents have the absolute right above all else, to have their wishes honored.

Regardless of how it makes you feel, if that's what they truly want, then that's what you should accept and support them with.

If you worry about having a place to remember them, then perhaps that's something you can all work on together as your means of coping when the time comes.

A little compromise isn't out of the question, I'm sure.


posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 11:16 PM
Being almost 40 and having both my parent's health deteriorate in the last year... I have no real clue how I would feel about this.

I know this isn't based on religion (your thread) but being religious (for me) would have to enter into the equation at some point. The main thing is, I believe in "the body is just a shell" as well. Once you are gone, your spirit/soul no longer inhabits your earthly body. If we go with just that thought, then I would have no issue with my parents doing what yours are doing. On the non-religious side of it (my own more selfish side), I would have a little harder time dealing with the thought of what their bodies would be put through until the school was done with them. The thought of that makes me uneasy, though I know/feel like it logically shouldn't. Go figure. I would wrestle with it within myself.

In the end though... it would not be my decision and it isn't really your's. I think you all handled it great. Everyone seems to have gotten what they wanted out of it in the end. I would have to go with my parent's wishes just as you did... well... because it is their life/death/body/wish. Even if I didn't like it, I would do it and not argue with it.

I don't think there is anything wrong with you feeling like you do/did about the situation. The loss of our parents is hard to face. I feel like I would want the remains just as you did too. Though I would be ok if that wasn't possible, I guess. I have loved ones that I myself have had to bury and I have never returned to the cemetery after that day... almost 2 decades ago. Again, the body is a shell. Visiting the site only brings pain when there is no one there to visit. (IMO only)

I think they are doing the honorable thing, and I can see how it will be harder for you to deal with it. Thankfully they knew that and didn't wait until they were gone to "surprise" you with the news.

posted on Feb, 8 2014 @ 11:17 PM
Don't worry Gwyhnhffr sic
Yer mom n dad wont be in those husks...and the choice is really not yours to make is it?
I think that yer mom and dad did you a service with the c remains and that's that.....scatter them someplace of your own choice because they wont care about that either.....

posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 10:17 AM
reply to post by Kangaruex4Ewe

If you're uneasy about what they might do to the body then you must not be familiar with the processes for embalming and preparing a body after death? Once I found out what happens I realized there isn't much of a difference.

For awhile I was determined to be mummified... Until I found out the cost.

Now? I really don't care. Whatever is the most cost effective with the littlest environmental impact. I'm not too fond of this meat bag anyway... It's been defective almost from the jump and I certainly don't want anyone wasting money on having it preserved and entombed!
edit on 9-2-2014 by SilverStarGazer because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 12:18 PM
reply to post by gwynnhwyfar

I worked at a major State University Medical Center next and connected to... the Med-Sci/Medical School.

I will be sensitive here...but when science has utilized all of the remains...which admittedly can be months, the remains are cremated and interned by the medical complex.

You should be very proud that the legacy they will leave will benefit the medically suffering. Especially children.

posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 06:35 PM
I am fine with them dontating their bodies, at least mentally (although dealing with it emotionally is a bit different).

All I asked for is to know where their final resting place is. The University won't provide this information, hence I requested the "cremains sent to next-of-kin" option. At least this way, I will eventually be INVOLVED in this process, and can inter my parents remains somewhere known to me and to my kids (their Grandchildren).

posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 08:34 PM
YOU brought this up in public. Your Mom & Dad have chosen to do a selfless thing that has the potential to benefit science in a positive way. That ought to be their decision, and theirs alone. For you to argue with them about their decision and what they ought to with their remains because of your "grief in advance" seems to me to be a very selfish thing to do. It is THEIR lives, THEIR bodies, and THEIR decision. Your role here is to CARRY OUT their wishes, not impose your own. No matter how you wish to spin it with emotion, this isn't about YOU. You "won't sign the papers"!!! Get somebody else! I'm not telling you to "get over it" with some sort of callous disregard for your feelings. I'm saying you shouldn't be there at all and the fact that you are is a gross imposition. I know what I am saying won't be popular, but I am ashamed for you since I doubt you will be yourself. And to mention your dog in the same post? Good Lord!

posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 09:16 PM
I don't care what happens to my body when i am gone. I won't be there, so why does it matter. What matters is the people left behind. I don't want them to have to worry about funeral arrangements, money and such when they are grieving. Toss my body off a cliff for all I care. What ever is the minimal burden to the ones I have left behind.
If I am buried, do go visiting my grave either. I won' be there. It would creep me out to think they were hanging around my corpse.
edit on 9-2-2014 by calstorm because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 09:23 PM
reply to post by Kangaruex4Ewe

Actually I would think it would be the opposite, I would think more religious people would have a harder time with it. Being non religious, I could care less.

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