Ask a Necromancer, by Amanda Downum

Vision and Death

Pam writes: I work in aged care and my facility makes a big deal of making sure glasses are removed once a resident has passed. The reasoning is that they don’t need them when they’re dead and they “look silly.” Personally I think my face looks naked without my glasses. I feel they are a part of me and I wouldn’t want them taken away when I die just because I don’t “need” them anymore. Does a corpse wearing glasses really look especially strange?

Many families have strong feelings about keeping glasses on their loved ones. One of my professors clearly had a lot of deep-seated frustration about this topic. His stance was that people usually don’t wear glasses while they’re sleeping. We never suggest that a decedent in their casket is meant to look like they’re asleep, but they are lying down with their eyes closed.

As someone who wears glasses but doesn’t want to fall asleep in them, my personal preference is to put a decedent’s glasses in their coat pocket if they’re wearing a jacket, or in their hands. Many people prefer to put them on the person’s face, though, and if that makes someone look more like “themself” to their loved ones, I would never discourage them.

From a purely pragmatic standpoint as someone who picks up dead people from nursing homes, however, I appreciate your facility’s removal of glasses. The fewer belongings–especially small, breakable or valuable ones–that we have to take with us on a first call, the better. I would much rather such things be kept by the family and given to the funeral director later. The fewer times they have to ride with us, be logged into a safe, or otherwise change hands, the happier everyone is.

Danielle asks: What is your stance on human composting?

I’m all for it! Composting is a much better alternative to landfill waste, or putting a body down the garbage disposal. Think at the sink!

Err, that is, I’m in favor of any means of disposition that reduces energy, waste, and funeral costs. Composting is still a complicated process–if you want a more peaceful return to the earth, I would suggest green burial. However, the combination of human composting and alkaline hydrolysis opens the possibility of elaborate funeral gardens, and–all joking aside–that sounds like a beautiful way to decompose.

Eden wonders: I keep dreaming of a dead loved one. What does he mean to tell me?

Oneiromancy is not my specialty, I’m afraid. I would need to know more about the signs and symbols present in the dream to have any hope of constructing a meaning. Let us assume that he is not haunting you because of some nefarious deed you committed. Is he trying to warn you of danger? Lead you to a long-lost treasure? Or perhaps he merely suggests that the connections we form in this mortal incarnation are more valuable than any promise of paradise, and to love and be loved is one of the greatest things any person can achieve. We cannot possess those we love, however, and eventually we separate, willingly or no. May your memories bring you joy, and may you see the marks your loved ones leave upon you and their world after they’re gone.

As a wise android once said, “What is grief, if not love persevering?”

Many things change, but death remains. So too does the necromancer, although the format of our publication has altered. Submit your questions through our portal, or wherever else The Deadlands can be found.

Amanda Downum is the author of The Necromancer Chronicles, Dreams of Shreds & Tatters, and the World Fantasy Award-nominated collection Still So Strange. Not content with armchair necromancy, she is also a licensed mortician. She lives in Austin, TX with an invisible cat. You can summon her at a crossroads at midnight on the night of a new moon, or find her on social media as @stillsostrange.

Return to Issue #34 | Support The Deadlands

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top