I. Nothing of man's life perishes by death.
At death, nothing of man's life is left in his body. "It matters not whether a man dies in his bed, or in battle, or in any other way, for whatever is vital in man, or however much dispersed may be the parts of his body, yet they are collected together in a moment.. ." (SD 1099, cp 1104, AC 179) There is from the Lord "a living and mighty attraction" which "wills to draw all men into eternal happiness, thus unto Himself." By reason of this force of His mercy, "nothing from the vital substance can remain in what is corporeal and material, but it is necessarily drawn out. . . ." (SD 1104) Nothing vital can remain. (AC 179, 4622, 2475, cp 10236)
When the spirit leaves, the matter of the body can no longer manifest any signs of life — either sensations or motions. The cells and fibres of the body are no longer obedient to the human soul and eventually decay. All human life is withdrawn. Yet various tissue cells, such as fat cells and skin cells, are — before their chemical make-up alters or dissolves — still susceptible to the influx of life from the spiritual world, and may multiply by mitosis if artificially fed in the laboratory, and continue to live in a vegetative fashion. Live blood of the same type may also be transfused from one person to another, and certain tissues and organs have been transplanted and as it were reorganized and adopted by the soul of the recipient patient. For "influx is according to form" and reception is according to forms and states. (CL 86, cp TCR 8, 35:11) It is also a law of influx that, when this falls into forms not correspondent, it is varied — as in all organic creation. "The God that vivifies every beast is the same God as vivifies man; but the recipient form causes beast to be beast and man to be man." (TCR 8:3) Similarly, the permanence of species is explained by the fact that reception of the influx of life is according to form. (CL 86, cp AC 687, TCR 366)
That an isolated tissue may continue to live and multiply by cell division after a man's death (as in the case of a skin culture) does not imply that any segment of man's life remains in it. What inflows seems rather to be a vegetative soul which manifests no human purposes or uses. Note the law of creative influx, given in Divine Love and Wisdom, nos. 340, 343.
II. Death by violence
Since the spirit lingers for a time in the dying body, the question occurs what should properly be done to this discarded garment of the spirit. The manner of death can scarcely affect the order of the soul's resuscitation, or hasten resurrection. Even the Lord, after a violent death, did not rise until the third day. But differences in the fatal disease or in premature embalming or cremation may hasten the cooling of the interiors of the body and thus cause the "separation" of the spirit. (AC 179, HH 446)
The body, as the former abode of the spirit and as formed in the image of man's personality, claims a dignity even in death. The burial signifies the resurrection. But it also marks the grateful restoration to the earth of the matter borrowed by the spirit for its uses during its mundane existence.