I think that dead bodies deserve the same respect as all nature. When I am dead, my body is, as so many things in nature are, a no longer functioning, but wonderful and amazing testament to the constructive powers of evolution. In the process of decomposition a whole other series of processes will occur, all of them as wondrous as the ones that functioned to animate me. My body deserves the same respect as a stone, or a fallen tree, a fossil, or a woodchuck run over on the highway.
I don’t mean any disrespect, rather I mean to imply that we, as self obsessed as we have evolved to be, often forget to respect the world around us. For me, one of the most intriguing aspects of our intelligence, is that to at least some degree we can actually develop some little understanding of our place in the totality of nature. While most of the time we are simply struggling to find our way through the trees, there are moments when we have some inkling of the nature of the forest. Somehow, this makes the labor of existing worth the effort.
I can understand why the cessation of consciousness is deeply fascinating and frightening, disturbing, and that our dead bodies, representing that cessation, have an enormous symbolic weight, yet, a dead body is in reality a mass of decaying tissue, a small piece of nature, no more and certainly no less.