Valar Morghulis

  • June 01, 2019
  • Tony Wilson, QC

BarTalk Nothing Official By Tony WilsonTony Wilson

Shine on you crazy diamond

I saw a newsworthy article recently about a new Washington State law permitting the composting of human remains as an alternative to traditional burial and cremation. The process, says Recompose, the company that is promoting the service, “gently converts human remains into soil,” although from a Game of Thrones perspective, it won’t prevent the dead from coming back to life. But I digress.

According to Recompose, human composting happens within futuristic, reusable, hexagonal “recomposition” vessels, (which, face it, are really “decomposition vessels” with better branding). An un-embalmed person who is presumably dead, is wrapped in a shroud, (natural fibres only – no gortex or polyester) and placed in one of these star-trekkie hexagonal boxes along with wood chips, alfalfa and hay, (and in my case, a month’s supply of Claratin). The temperature rises to 150°F to speed up the microbial process, and as the body decomposes (recomposes?), it is composted. Voila! After 30 days, the former dead person with a name and a Facebook page is turned into a cubic yard of soil, which will fill two large wheelbarrows from Home Depot. The composted remains can be used to fertilize trees, forests, shrubberies and presumably the backyard tomatoes and other garden vegetables the dearly departed has left behind. Frankly, I’d give my right arm to see the look on people’s faces when they’ve enjoyed a tomato salad that was fertilized with… my right arm, but the process might be a bit too “soylent-greeny” for some people’s (ahem), “taste”. However, full marks to Recompose for thinking outside the casket.

There are other novel alternatives to casket burials, cremation, and becoming fertilizer for next year’s tomato crop. Although I’m in no rush, I could become a diamond! Yes indeed, LifeGem, Cremation Solutions and Algordanza will compress and super-heat my cremated ashes and turn them into a man-made diamond. They extract the carbon, convert it to graphite then heat it to almost 2,900°F, then, they compress the graphite with 725,000 pounds per square inch of pressure – the weight of the world on what’s left of my shoulders, so to speak – to turn me into a synthesized diamond for one-of-a-kind jewelry. Maybe my wife will have some fun with her new jewellery at parties! “That’s such a beautiful blue ring I see you’re wearing. Is it a sapphire?” “Oh no, that’s my late husband Tony. He had such beautiful blue eyes… see... right here.”

I discovered yet another alternative for this ( ahem) “undertaking”. For as low as $5,000 USD, Celestis will send a small “symbolic portion” of my cremated remains (and some DNA, like an eyelash), into space in a special capsule, just like they did for Gene Roddenberry and James Doohan. After a few thousand orbits, the warp drive will fail and I’ll re-enter the atmosphere in a magnificent blaze of pop-culture metaphors.

But for $12,500, that same “symbolic portion” of me can be sent by Celestis… to the moon! “We buried most of dad on the moon” will be a showstopper in any conversation my adult kids will have about their late father, and far more interesting than “Dad fertilized these tomatoes… did you like them?” Compost is temporary. Diamonds are forever.

So that’s my plan. Send me to the moon, preferably as a diamond! My family won’t have to feel guilty for never visiting the cemetery. They can just look up at the moon, and roll their eyes knowing that I got the last cosmic laugh. My memorial service will be a launch party celebrating my… launch. Friends will do their worst William Shatner and Patrick Stewart impressions while The Blue Danube, Also sprach Zarathustra and Dark Side of the Moon play in the background.

Call it the ultimate trip, the final frontier or Monoliths-R-Us™, but when the God of Death comes for me – which I hope will be later rather than sooner – I choose to go to the moon. Boldly.

But not today. 


Tony Wilson, QC is a franchise lawyer at Boughton in Vancouver and a Bencher of the Law Society. The views expressed herein are strictly those of Tony and do not reflect the opinions of the Law