Rethinking Cremation (or, The Case of the Missing Footprint)

So, I might have told you that my plans for myself and my body involve cremation and scattering–it satisfies my tightwad nature, it makes my minimalist self happy, and it seems as respectful as possible to both the planet AND the people who will have to carry out my desires.

Every now and again, though, there’s a story that makes me think twice for a while, and this very cool discovery is one of those.

The Bronze Age Burial of a Cultic Princess


An iconic Bronze Age burial from Egtved, Denmark is yielding some surprises. The burial contained the remains of a teenage girl who had died about 3,400 years ago. Now, a new analysis of her hair and nails suggests that the girl may have actually come from very far away.

The article is fascinating–I hope you read it.  It talks about the science they have used to test her clothing, her hair, her teeth, and her nails, and determine that she was in her middle to late teens, had spent the last six months of her life traveling in southern Gerrmany (to include wearing clothing produced in that region), and was likely from that area as well.   Her attire and burial style, well preserved by the conditions of the peat bog, also indicate that she was of some status.

Based on the evidence, the researchers theorize that perhaps she was in a strategic marriage intended to strengthen bonds between the area of her death and her ancestral home.

So, if I’m completely burned up and scattered in two separate bodies of water, what will remain of my time on earth?  

I keep returning to this thought, whether it’s courtesy of a cool science-y article, or stunning cemetery photography, or cool genealogical findings–is it important to me to leave a trace, any trace, behind?

Is it enough that there will likely be digital traces, on this constantly archiving electronic world we call the internet?   Is a Facebook profile, a blog about funerals, and a few email addresses enough of a footprint for me?  Or do I need a little bit more–a name on a wall, a carved stone, a permanent site?

Gpa Froude

Photo courtesy of

This is all that remains of my grandfather, my great grandfather, and my great grandmother–three ‘books’ on a shelf in a quiet, cold marble columbarium in Seattle.  I have been there once.  Is this any better or worse than leaving nothing at all?

I still like the idea of being scattered into the elements, and I don’t really see that changing.  But I’m toying with a marker for my scatterings, maybe a simple carved rock that can be thrown out with my ashes in the two designated locations, simply to state

Marilee Froude Parsons was scattered here on thisday.

Born thisday,  died thisday,

This definitely wouldn’t convey heritage or genetic information or any of the other cool things that we now know about Egvedt Girl above.  And something like a rock would be a total happenstance thing to ever be found, given my choices of where I will be scattered, but it would be a trace nevertheless.

Will it be enough to scratch the what will my footprint be itch?   Stay tuned–we shall see!

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