What happens when climate change ravages graveyards?

I spend more time than I probably should wondering when the luxury condo trend will finally come for the dead. Real estate is expensive, and there's lots of valuable land in urban areas that could be used for yet-another fancy steel-and-glass skyscraper used to hide foreign money—if it wasn't for the cemeteries that currently take up all that space. I even have a half-finished short story in a notebook somewhere riffing on the classic Stephen King scenario of towns built on Native American burial grounds, except it's just luxury condos built up on the corpses of, well, everyone.

But I was thinking too far ahead. Because I didn't stop to think about what happens to those graveyards now, as flooding and earthquakes and more extreme weather disturb the soil under which our loved ones have been laid to their eternal rests. As a recent article in Scientific American gruesomely details, coffins are already body-surfing through the streets of Louisiana during storms:

The caskets and their surface vaults are sealed airtight, so pressure builds inside them when a hurricane or flash flood covers them in water. Moisture weakens the vault seal, and eventually the water begins to bubble with dead air—the tell-tale sign a casket is ready to pop out of its grave, Hunter said.

“You hear the bubbles, you see the bubbles, and you know that seal is weakening because of that immense amount of pressure. And then the lid comes off,” he said.

The visual of bubbling coffins popping out of the ground is scary enough. Read the rest

Girl Scouts in Indiana learn about mortuary science

A restorative art project that teaches girls how to create a nose with mortuary wax

To show that mortuary science is a field for anyone, reps from the Mid-America College of Funeral Services in Jeffersonville, Indiana spent a day with local Girl Scouts. The event was presented as part of Spark, an event series that "allows girls to meet women working in STEM fields."

News and Tribune:

Teachers and students from the college answered the Girl Scouts' questions about restorative art and gave them a quick tour of a reconstruction lab, where they learned about the embalming process and uses for various tools. The kids also received a crash course on how to sculpt body parts such as noses with mortuary wax, which is often used in funeral services to return bodies to a natural appearance...

Gohmann encourages more women and young people to enter STEM fields such as mortuary science, and she wants them to understand what funeral services involve to remove its stigma.

"In the past, you think of funeral directors being dour old men, and it's not," she said. "We're young women. We're grandmothers. We're mothers."

Screenshot via News and Tribune Read the rest