Some time ago, I watched an interesting episode of a show called This is Life with my father. The host of the show is American Journalist Lisa Ling. The name of the episode was “America’s Busiest Coroners”. This is life focuses on shedding light on the unconventional lives of ordinary people in America. The Episode “America’s Busiest Coroners” focused on the people who deal with America’s dead. For this episode, Ling interviewed and shadowed the workers in the Los Angelos Coroner’s Office.
During one part of the episode one of the workers took Ling to into the room where the bodies are kept. All of the bodies were stacked on top of each other like sardines. The worker told Ling that everyone who dies in Los Angelos ends up there. It doesn’t matter how wealthy or poor the person was. Everyone ends up in the same place after death.
Another portion of the episode went over what happens to a dead body when it cannot be identified and no one claims it. When a dead body is brought to the coroner’s office an autopsy is done to determine cause of death, and an attempt at discovering the identity of the deceased person is made. Loved ones are also contacted, and the body is claimed. If the workers can not reach any loved ones of the deceased person, and the body is not claimed, the body is cremated and buried through the coroner’s office.
One such body at the coroner’s office was found hanging from a tree. An apparent suicide. The person was an Asian American. This hit home with Lisa Ling, who is an Asian American herself. Ling couldn’t help but wonder if this person was alone in America. Possibly this person had no family in the U.S. with him, and he fell into what he thought was a hopeless situation.
The end of the episode showed how the unclaimed dead were honored in the Los Angelos community. Every year people in the community gathered at the grave site of the unclaimed dead to pay their respects. Anyone in the community is welcome. Lisa Ling attended one of those gatherings, and she was very touched. Some of those people may have died alone, and we don’t know their names, but they were still human beings with their own dreams and stories.
My father put into one word how we both felt after watching that episode of This is Life: “humbled”. It was a humbling experience. The episode reminded us of our mortality, and that everyone dies someday. Some sooner than their time. Death is not the most comfortable topic for most people, and no one wants to die alone. The episode “America’s Busiest Coroners” of This is Life made me think deeply on this topic. I don’t know what the future holds for me, however, I do know that I am a single woman. Also, I have my parents won’t be around forever. I have siblings, and though I know I can depend on them whenever I need them, they have their own lives to live. Will I be alone when I die? I don’t know. Will my body be treated with respect after I die? I hope it will, but I don’t know. Again, my future is uncertain, and how am I to know what happens to my body after I die?
“It doesn’t matter what what happens after you die.”, was my father’s response. “What matter’s is what you do during your life while you’re alive”.
I completely agree. “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence”. Psalms 115:17. I don’t know what the future holds, however, I know that I can choose in the present to do the best I can with what time God gives me on this earth. To those reading this, know that you are kings and queens. You have a purpose. Use your gifts to do what you can, while you can.