I have been listening to a lot of interesting discussions about the 14 year-old girl who has had her body cryogenically preserved. It has certainly stimulated a lot of views about death and life.
Cryogenics is the science of low temperature conditions. It has included the study of the point whereby gases become liquid and one discipline has looked at how this can preserve bodies. But in many ways the science of it all is irrelevant – more important is the desire that sits behind the wish to be resurrected.
It would be interesting to know what this young girl wanted from this request. Was it that she couldn’t accept the idea of the world without her in it? Could it be that she wanted to offer hope to her parents that they might not be losing her for ever? I hope that she received counselling to help her clarify what she wanted and helping her to think about what would happen if she was brought back to life when all her friends and family might be gone and where life might be unrecognisable.
The film California Man starring Brendan Fraser was a comedy whereby a cavemen is found frozen, is defrosted and introduced to west coast american culture with subsequent laughs aplenty. But would it be that funny in real life? Surely all the reasons for wanting to be preserved would long be gone? And she is still a child – who would care for her and protect her?
In one discussion I heard someone comment “when would her parents grieve for her?” When my father was alive he always said he wanted to be cremated because he didn’t want anyone tied to a grave that would require maintenance and regular visits. How much stronger would this attachment be if you knew the “dead” person was in suspended animation? The process of overcoming the loss of your child and beginning to move on with your life would never be over.
Although the thought of leaving this world is difficult for me it’s never lead me to consider being preserved (even if I could afford it). But then I’m in my 60s and have had a very good life. Maybe I would feel very differently if I was a young teenager who felt robbed of my future. Maybe then I’d be willing to gamble that one day I would come back and I could live that life after all.