Death makes some people nuts. They’re still dead, but that doesn’t always stop them from demanding that the pain continue.
Ancient royalty sometimes went to elaborate measures to ensure that not only were they prepared for the afterlife — but they would be long remembered in this life as well.
Monuments, crazy embalming, bloodletting rituals and other unnecessary acts were performed for the sake of giving the dead person a great send-off.
Case in point: Egyptian pharaohs, who, as part of the mummification process, had their brains yanked out of their noses and buried with them in canopic jars.
Sounds perfectly awful, right? But it’s really no big thing, considering that the guy’s dead. Far worse were the poor wives, concubines and servants in other cultures who were killed and buried with the VIP.
Some were buried alive so that the dead person could … hell, I don’t know. I have a hard time making sense of my own religion much less somebody else’s.
Objection to this sort of burial ritual behavior today would be immediate. Having grandma buried alive with dead grandpa is a crime.
But what about a beloved pet? Some people are really attached to their cats. What if just before the lid on grandma’s coffin were closed, someone crammed Mr. Whiskers inside?
Dumber things have happened. A recently dead Virginia woman had her perfectly still alive dog euthanized so that it could be buried with her.
The woman left instructions that her pet Shih Tzu mix, Emma, be killed, cremated, and the dog’s ashes placed in her coffin.
People tried to put a stop to it, but apparently it’s not illegal to euthanize healthy animals in Virginia — or, for that matter, to bury animals in the same box as their owners.
Emma didn’t cross over the rainbow bridge of her own accord or even by accident. She was dragged over it and now resides with her dead owner on the other side — which, at least for Emma’s sake, many people hope isn’t hell.
I’m as heartless as the next guy, but I can’t think of a single pet I’ve had that I would want executed just so we wouldn’t be separated after I died.
Death robs us of reason, especially if we’re the ones who are dead. We’ll do all sorts of things to make saying goodbye a significant event. When I’m dead, I wanted Sonny to shoot my ashes out of a cannon into Rock Creek from Tavaputs Ranch.
My wife found out about it and insisted that I be taken care of like your average dead husband/father/grandpa.
So, unless Sonny sneaks a scorpion into my casket, even putting an animal in my coffin for some heartfelt or religious reason won’t be happening to me. While it might be nice to have company while I’m dead, I must respect my wife’s more conventional feelings.
The person I don’t understand is the woman in Virginia. Emma still had some good years ahead of her. Sure, they were dog years, but it didn’t make sense to kill her simply because her owner couldn’t handle the Big Adios on her own.
I have a better idea. Yeah, it rarely happens but hear me out on this one.
What if instead of killing a still reasonably useful dog to place it in its owner’s coffin, we put the now completely useless owner on ice until the dog dies naturally — and then plant them both in a pet cemetery?
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.