Monatophobia is the fear of dying alone. Many people die alone for various reasons- whether they are estranged from family, have no family left, or it's caused by the circumstances of their death- perhaps they swam alone at night in turbulent waters or choked on a late-night hot dog alone in the kitchen. It happens.

The hope then is that at least some family or friends will get together and give that person a proper send-off via a nice funeral or internment, but what if they are unwilling, unable, or if the deceased left this world truly alone? What happens to your body in Texas if no one pays for your services? 

A few things can happen, actually, with one "solution" on the rise. We will take a look at what could happen to your body, and how you could avoid this (if it's something you even care about).

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash
Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Veterans: if your family can't or won't pay for your services, the government will. Funeral homes are required by law to make every effort to determine your veteran status if your remains are unclaimed. You will be interred in a veteran cemetery per Texas law.

Everyone else: a couple of different things could happen. A funeral home might take the allotted city/ county stipend for burying or cremating you, but many won't. In some cases, the stipend won't even cover their costs. They may do it as an act of charity or a write-off, perhaps. If you die with any cash on you, they are allowed to pocket that towards your burial or cremation. The State of Texas will only assist financially with, "the disposition of the embryonic and fetal tissue remains of an unborn child," otherwise it's a more local issue.

Some large Texas counties- with many unclaimed dead, are turning to another solution: they are donating these bodies to medical students. Of course, this is not without controversy- what if that person's religion doesn't allow for it? What if they would have otherwise been deeply opposed to it? It's not like the deceased can speak for themselves. For now; however, there doesn't seem to be a better solution for "lost souls" and some good comes out of this unfortunate scenario.

So how can you avoid your body being "disposed" of in a way you wouldn't have wanted? The only way to ensure your wishes will be honored is to have a pre-arrangement with a funeral home. The funeral home will be contractually obligated to honor the services that you paid for in advance. Of course, things can still go wrong. For instance, if you die far away from said funeral home, they do not have to pay to transport you back.

I suppose I'm lucky in my utter indifference. When I leave my "meatsack" behind, it doesn't matter to me what happens to it. It would be nice if it could be buried in a very natural, unobtrusive way, perhaps directly in the dirt. But if a dumpster is the only thing available, I'm cool with that, too.

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