A few weeks ago I watched this TedTalk given by Jae Rhim Lee:
Her message really resonated with me. I understand the temptation of family members to try to preserve the bodies of loved ones after death, but for my part, I don’t want anyone looking at me after I’m dead, making comments how good I look (considering the circumstances), and admiring what a good job the mortician did. I don’t want my body tossed into the Earth like a leaky formaldehyde bag wearing lipstick. My grandmother’s wake was horrible for me. She didn’t look like herself at all. It was like we were burying a stranger.
Jae Rhim Lee created a mushroom burial suit. It costs much less than the average casket, and it’s far better for the environment. Lee has trained fungus to get good at eating what will be her remains by feeding it her skin cells, hair, nails, sweat, and blood. Even though it might seem morbid to teach an organism to eat your body, I thought there was something poetic about it, and it inspired me to write this short science fiction piece:
A way in which I might extend this project is to have a podcast that features a science fiction story and a non fiction piece that discusses some of the real science referenced in the story.
In the meantime, I’ll continue thinking about how we can use fungus to normalize death and decomposition.