Musings on Death

I have resisted the temptation to put this in the Cheerful thread, or even perhaps the Humour one, but as I am nearer to it than birth it did amuse me. As a definitely non-religeous person I do not have any worries about what comes after and whether I will qualify for this way or that.

Anyway I lifted this from a much longer article in my ‘Oldie’ magazine quoting several people from history but liked the following very much in particular.

Artur Schopenhauer – derided as a pessimist but actually one of philosophy’s finest wits – actually welcomed death. He was speaking with a man who feared death greatly and Schopenhauer tried to cheer him up by telling him that it was just like being asleep. Reasonably enough, the man answered that one wakes up after sleep. Death is altogether different. Schopenhauer disagreed:

‘Suppose someone said he would put you to sleep for a thousand years but then promise to revive you, would that be acceptable?’

With some reluctance the man said it would be. Artur countered.

‘But suppose he didn’t? You would certainly not notice that he had forgotten to wake you!’

I like that. :joy:

Only thing is, if it is exactly like sleep then I do have one little gripe. I often sleep soundly for a few hours, then wake up. Pretty soon I fall asleep again and continue 'till the appropriate hour.
If that is death, it might be just a tad unsettling. :thinking: :rofl:


I think a cremation could put a stop to that :joy:

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Or even natural decay, which is our chosen path.

One of the other contributors was Bertrand Russell who said

I believe that when I die I shall rot.

No beating about the bush there then. :grinning:


I completely agree with Bertrand Russell, I have thought exactly that for as long as I can remember.

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Sadly French official attitudes to funeral rites etc seem way behind those of the UK. Here spreading of ashes has all sorts of restrictions, though one wonders how rigorously they’re enforced. During Covid, my brothers strewed my mother’s ashes around her garden - nice and simple (though they thought it better not to inform the estate agent who was handling the sale…)

Similarly, ‘natural’ burials seem far less common here, whereas nearly twenty years ago in the UK I had an MA student who began making hand-felted coffins, correction - ‘shrouds’ which seems a lovely way of consigning a body to the earth. Further back, Welfare State Int.'s Dead Good Funeral Book from the mid-Nineties.

Here it seems as though many of these practices are less well developed , but I hope subsequent posters can correct and enlighten me.

So the body was stiff even if the coffin wasnt :face_with_hand_over_mouth:


Not really. It’s not spreading them that is restricted as you are not allowed to keep nan’s urn on your mantelpiece.

You can disperse ashes in nature without a problem. But if it’s the body better move to Niort.

Scattering the ashes… does need some paperwork being completed beforehand (as you might well expect). :wink:

The Funeral company will be able to advise… (as I know from experience…)

I’ve found that everyone “official” has been very helpful and tried to make what is obviously an emotional time, less stressful… for all concerned.


Several of my preferred options seem to be restricted or prohibited according to Stella’s list, and as you seem to imply, natural burial sites are still very rare.

So not in the garden then. :roll_eyes:

Funny that you can’t scatter inert human ashes in the garden but, as far as I was made aware, there is nothing to stop you burying complete dogs’ bodies save only to cover the corpse with quicklime before back filling. :astonished:

Unless I was badly advised. :slightly_frowning_face: :worried:

I also heard, but am not interested enough to confirm, that transporting human ashes by road requires notification to communes en route.

Pretty sure our Maire knows nothing of all this. I asked for Fran to be considered a priority for electricity in the event of a cut because she partly, but offcially, requires an oxygen machine 24/7. He nodded non committedly. I took the opportunity to do something we have meant to do for a long time and that is to book a double plot in the cemetary. Neighbours advised that was essential… He said come and see us when you die. :rofl:

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This is from The Connexion, a year ago, don’t know how accurate or up to date it is, but the regs seem fairly restrictive to me

What options are there for eco-friendly funerals in France?

With many more people conscious of environmental damage, we look into biodegradable urns and cardboard coffins

31 August 2022 18:00

The idea of eco-friendly funerals is growing in popularity around the world, but France retains strict rules on managing the deceased Pic: Wstockstudio / Shutterstock

By Thomas Brent

Reader question: What are the options in France for an eco-friendly funeral that does not involve a standard burial or cremation?

Under French law the only legal options for the disposal of a body is burial or cremation.

However, both practices are polluting. With a burial, the body is injected with products to conserve it, which later seep into the ground.

During a cremation the body burns for around one-and-a-half hours, releasing CO2.

This has led to a growing number of people around the world searching for more eco-friendly alternatives.

Unfortunately in France, due to strict laws, the movement has been slow to catch on.

The idea of a green funeral (obsèques écologiques), where for example a person is buried in open ground with a tree planted on top, is not allowed in France.

However there are some places which offer similar concepts.

For example, Arbres de Mémoire near Angers (Maine-et-Loire) allows for the person’s ashes to be dispersed among the roots of a special tree planted for them (with a choice of tree species).

A Spanish brand called ‘urne Bios’ offers a biodegradable urn with a tree seed in it, so a tree grows directly out of the place where you bury it.

It states that options in France include burying it on council-owned land, if you ask permission from the mairie, or in a designated cimetière naturel or bois funéraire.

It suggests an internet search to see if one is available locally, citing Arbes de Mémoire as well as other examples such as the cimetière natural de Souché in Niort and the forêt cimetière d’Arbas in Haut-Garonne.

This option is more ecological in the sense that a tree is grown but the body must still be cremated.

The mairie of Niort opened its ‘natural’ cemetery a few years ago, where there are trees and grass instead of rows of tombs. You can scatter the ashes, or bury a biodegradable urn or a coffin. No artificial flowers are allowed. It won a ‘best local initiative’ award from the Senate.

Funeral firms are also starting to offer ‘greener’ options such as a cardboard coffin (cercueil en carton) or other models of coffin or urn that contain fewer harmful substances and

biodegrade more quickly than a traditional coffin.

One large funeral chain offers ‘cercueils nature’, said to be treated with fewer chemicals than usual.

According to Advitam, a firm of Paris undertakers offering coffins made out of recycled wood, the models are also cheaper than traditional coffins and use much less wood.

One can opt for the equivalent of “no chemicals please”… such a request might be met with surprise :wink: but they will respect such wishes (noted on the form one has to complete).

That surprised me too, why on earth would you want your body preserved?
Perhaps an idea from Scotland to foil would be Burke and Hares. :rofl:

I thought the whole point of there being a requirement to have a funeral here within days is that embalming is not routine and has to be asked for specially (and paid for) if you wish to delay the process?

Our friend, and his wife a couple of months ago, both had very simple coffins. - wood rather than cardboard I think (couldn’t really stop to investigate) but rough and not treated by the look of it. . And the family had decorated them with drawings and photos. Simple but effective. And only had to last long enough to be transported to the crematorium. Marie Paule is already scattered, and he will follow shortly from top of the Monts du Jura.

And with the préfecture’s consent a lot of things are possible. As with so many things here the regulations are tight, but exceptions are the rule of the day.

Should be from Ikea, their stuff biodegrades whilst people still have in their homes :joy:


From the point of only having a regulation quite often. The furness sterilises the body and the machines grind it to dust, (ashes)

I have always threatened those around me that I’d sign myself up to that sinister looking Gunther von Hagens chap and have myself plastinated after death then tour myself round the globe in his Bodyworlds exhibit :rofl: In reality they’d probably reject me as not interesting enough, for him or to be pickled by Damien Hirst you’d probably have to have 16 toes or 3 heads or something worth people gawping at :sweat_smile:


Not being greatly interested in what happens to my corpse after I’m gone, though two recent burials made me quite fancy my own, I haven’t really considered it.

But seeing your sacrificial devotion to Fran over the years I’ve read your posts, I see beautiful evidence that we’re made in the image of God.

Which will at least embarrass you, @David_Spardo !!!

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Oh dear, not allowed in France to keep a loved one in a vase on the mantlepiece! I will have to rethink.

I do quite like the idea of a willow wicker coffin but am not sure if these are available or permitted in France

A bit big for the mantlepiece.

Thinking ahead for my dear dogs, I found this

although a picnic hamper with a jollier lining may also do.

I still think I prefer a parade of loved one’s ashes on the mantlepiece. Who’d actually know?

An interesting thought. If a loved one was cremated in UK, are we then not allowed to keep their ashes at home when we move to or live in France? If the import manifest declared ‘antique Chinese bronze reliquary’, which happens to contain authentic ashes, would that then be alright sitting on the mantlepiece?

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The theory says no. But who’s going to check? I’m in process of bringing my mum’s ashes over and was advised to ask my mayor to give me a letter to say they will be dispersed in nature and then no questions will be asked. I didn’t have her death certificate with me in UK, so hesitated at the last moment. So still in my sister’s sock drawer as want to keep them well out of the way of husband with dementia.

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