As of December 16th, 2020, the opinion I hold about what will happen to my remains is this: It depends.

Because I deal with the dead all day, every day, people ask me frequently if I will be skeletonized upon my death, and donated to an institution.

There are many examples of individuals choosing to do this upon their death. A researcher named Grover Krantz donated his body to the Smithsonian, along with the bones of his Irish Wolfhounds, because of his love and desire for teaching, even beyond his death. A woman named Carol Orzel donated her skeletonized body to the Mütter Museum after a longstanding relationship with them in her life, so that people could learn from her skeleton about a rare condition she had called Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP).

Both of these individuals had personal connections to the museums they donated their skeletons to, and desired to be teachers posthumously.

This is different from the skeletons I work with, because these people gave their bodies under the condition of anonymity.

I think, were I to donate my body to an institution, I would not provide the same medical knowledge as Ms. Orzel’s skeleton, and while Chonk and I are quite the duo, it remains to be seen if I will have the same legacy of education and research as Mr. Krantz and his dogs. The only teachable thing about my skeleton besides the fact that it is a real human skeleton, unless I undergo a severe medical event in the future, would be who I was during my lifetime. At my age, I have yet to accumulate all the family and loved ones I will ever have. There are people I haven’t even met yet who will be very sad to lose me when I die. Maybe one day I will have a wife and children and they may or may not want to have the very visceral experience of seeing my skeleton. It might be very upsetting to them.

When a person dies, the only thing they have is the love of the people they left behind. If my future loved ones are fine with me being skeletonized, then I will do so. If they are not, I will be laid to rest by more conventional means.