One evening last week, I settled down with a cuppa to watch a programme on the after-life. I was on my own; trying to watch anything of that ilk with Mr M Is futile – I can’t hear a thing for his raucous laughter.
There were parts of the programme that were intriguing, and others that were open to interpretation. Near-death experiences have been documented so frequently that there must be something in them, but ghostly audio recordings made in a vast, Victorian hotel? I suspect they’re more likely to be from channel 666 than anything more sinister! Towards the end of the documentary, however, the presenter moved on to the subject of cryogenics.
I watched in horror as the Cryo man took the programme’s presenter on a tour of his macabre facility. Large tanks divided into four vertical outer chambers hold as many complete bodies. Further, its central cylinder, separated horizontally into another five, smaller, chambers, is designed specifically to house an equal number of heads. Apparently, some people can’t afford the full 99…
The process of preparing the body for freezing offers a grieving family very little time to say farewell. There’s substantial speed involved in getting the departed to the facility, followed by a fair amount of draining, bagging and chilling, before the final deep freeze. It struck me as an awful lot of fuss for a body that’s done its time, and I couldn’t help but to think of that commercial for frozen peas (although, for the deceased, the ‘pop’ moment is possibly less sweet).
The presenter quizzed the Cryo-man on the reasons why people should choose to be frozen. There were several: Individuals not being ready to ‘die,’ others who wanted to be re-awakened in a future where science had developed to such a degree that it could promise a successful thaw, and others whose egos weren’t yet ready to be forgotten. None of these were compelling enough for me. I wouldn’t say I was anticipating my death with Christmas-Eve like enthusiasm, but I am happy that its inevitability is guaranteed, and that death is an experience I will share with everyone else. More than that, however, none of the cryo-science babble gave me any concrete evidence or confidence that its claims, or the hopes of its willing vegetables, could be fulfilled.
I am very lucky. I share my life with a varied host of wonderful individuals who all have their own take on what happens when we die. There are those, like me, who like to hold on to the hope of a heavenly connectedness. There are those who believe in total nothingness. And there are those who simply don’t care. However, amongst most of us – from the spiritual to scientific – there is something of an unspoken agreement that our energy or our soul (or whatever you want to call it), leaves our body at the point of our death. Studies have been done which involved weighing a body before and after death. The results were staggering. Whatever leaves the body weighs approximately the same, irrespective of who once housed it.
We’re a funny bunch. We love Disney films and Father Christmas, vampires and werewolves, because a part of our child-like psyche still wants to believe in mystery. And yet, another part of us is busy exploring space and conducting experiments on out of body experiences and Astral Travelling to eradicate it. We desperately want to know everything, and yet we concoct fantasies because we still need some magic. In the end, perhaps it all comes down to control. All the time our fantasies and nightmares are of our own making, we’re quite happy. But death? Well, we have no control over that. And perhaps there-in lies the real reason why some would choose to be frozen. Naked. In a tank with complete strangers…
I’m certain that, at the point a body is frozen, the part of it that might care about its condition or its immediate neighbours, won’t care. It will be floating around the ether, kicking itself that it didn’t invest in cryogenics when it was alive rather than increasing its profits post-mortem. Even if it’s possible to revive a frozen body, what do the Cryo People hope to animate it with? Our consciousness, soul, spirit, energy – whatever you want to call it – is not of the body. How many times have we heard heart-breaking stories of a body still breathing when its brain is clinically dead? I simply don’t see how, even if a body is successfully brought back to life, it could ever ‘be’ the person it once was.
So where does that leave the remains? On display in a museum? Used in crude Frankenstein experiments, to be aired on future reality TV? Will Worzle Gummage make an unexpected come back to children’s television with so many different heads to choose from? I suspect nothing so glamorous. I suspect that, on the quiet, the bodies will finally be disposed of; buried, or even burnt (novel idea) with no-one who cares around to say good-bye.
The metaphysical school of thought believes that our energy is housed in different bodies and in different lifetimes in order to learn lessons and to evolve. Look back five hundred years, and in some, (although, unfortunately, not all), respects, our evolution has been consistent. Therefore, even if the Cryo-Millionaires find a way to resuscitate both the bodies and their respective spirits currently in their care, would there really be a place for them in modern society? I’m pretty sure that if we were suddenly presented with a pod of Neanderthal men, we might struggle to find them suitable work.
Yet perhaps, given who currently resides at Number 10 and The White House, I’m completely wrong.