Burial Alternatives – What are they?
From an early age we are all well aware of where we are heading – 6 feet under – but little did we know that the 21st century would mix things up a bit. Checking out is cool now. You can be 3D printed into a clothes peg, or have your ashes sent into space so you become actual space dust. The downside is the death part, but we can gloss over that for now and try to get excited, or terrified in some cases, for what is to come for us and our loved ones. Burial alternatives have never really existed before, outside of cremation and a few of the below – keep your eye out for Dissolution and maybe threaten your spouse with this next time you fall out. Once you find your burial alternative, get it in writing on your Lexikin so your family are locked in.
Traditional Ground Burial
Even though they aren’t very eco-friendly, ground burials are the most common and traditional method of being buried. Bodies are placed into a casket, or coffin, and buried typically 6 feet under in a local cemetery. Often, headstones are then placed above ground over the location of the body to state the name and date of birth and death. This gives loved ones a place to come and pay respects.
Cremation is one of the most common performances of burial, this can be due to personal or religious reasons, with the body exposed to vigorous heat causing it to burn, leaving the ‘ashes’. After the cremation the ashes are handed over to the family, who can disperse them in a special place or keep them close by, usually in an Urn.
You typically hear of mummification with the historical burials of ancient Egypt. However, although it is not as popular as some other burials today, this type of burial has been modernised and is still used in some cultures. This happens by submerging the body in a tank of liquid in-order-to preserve the body, also be known as Plastination, where the body is mummified.
Tree burial practices are often unheard of, but are common in places such as the Philippines, to protect the bodies from wild animals. This strange burial practice takes place by putting bodies in a tree or embedding them in a tree-trunk. Bodies can also be concealed in a coffin or blanket that will be tied into the branches of a tree. Tree burial is a creative method of protecting the dead and giving loved ones a special way of remembering them.
Cryonics is still being researched to this day and is often used for people who are brain dead. It is the process of being frozen. By freezing the body, it is believed that the person could one day be revived through advances in technology. Cryogenic freezing is the method of being frozen without damaging tissue. I would request a memory foam mattress if I was going to be ‘resting’ for quite some time, dread to think of the back ache once revived…
One of the newest talked about burials is having your ashes placed into soil with a seed to plant a tree, which doesn’t affect the trees DNA. This is a wonderful way of being buried by being great for the environment and giving a special meeting place for family and friends to gather and remember the dead. Take a look at the Living Urn for more details.
Aquamation is the procedure of being ‘bathed’ in water, which speeds up the deterioration process. This obviously isn’t the nicest way to dispose of, or bury, a body, however some see it as a better alternative to being burnt in a furnace.
Resomation is an eco-friendly burial method that decomposes the body using an alkali and water based solution under high pressure. Sounds nice. This breaks down the body to a liquid and bone ash. The liquid can be recycled into the ecosystem by pouring it into a garden or nature, similar to the spreading of ashes, while the bone ash is collected and placed into an Urn.
The coolest option and my personal favourite. My family best get saving. It’s never too late to go to space. Space Burials are practiced by launching ashes, or for a higher cost, the full remains of the deceased into space via a rocket. Although this isn’t the eco-friendliest way to be buried, it sure is one of the most interesting. And expensive. Celestis do memorial space trips for space burials.
Dissolution is the quick and easy process of a body being placed into a tank of strong chemicals, causing it to dissolve, rapidly breaking down the body’s cells. Often, the body is separated from limb to limb to save space and speed up the dissolution process. Like something from your worst nightmares or a disturbing serial killer documentary. Have you seen Breaking Bad?
Promession is an eco-friendly burial method. The body is transformed into a fertiliser, like cow dung?, by being frozen in liquid nitrogen and turned into a powder. This helps plant life grow by spreading it into the soil which eventually deteriorates into compost. Leaving your family with wonderful tomatoes comes spring.
Plastination of the body is a process of removing all liquids from the body, sucking it dry, whilst allowing only tissue mass to remain, preserving it and preventing the body from decaying. Incredibly the body is then turned in a plastic like mannequin and used for educational purposes. A little like a real world, and very creepy, Madam Tussauds.
Exposure, also known as a sky burial is very common in locations such as Tibet, where the ground is not suitable to dig graves and a lack of resources makes it difficult to cremate bodies. The body of the deceased is released to the wild to allow animals and the natural elements to dispose of it. Yep eaten and left to rot. Often, they remove skin or remove limbs to speed up the deterioration process. They then cover the body with a mixture of milk, flour, tea and barley to attract animals. Dinner time.
One for the Mrs, if she loves Diamonds so much, just tell her she will be one sooner rather than later if she isn’t careful. Memorial diamonds are made by pressurising hair or ashes of the deceased, in the same way real diamonds are made, but quicker. This can then be made into jewellery or as a keepsake of your loved ones.
Hanging coffins were an ancient burial technique and not seen on coast lines today. The deceased were hung on the side of a cliff, however it is not confirmed how they were placed there and it remains an enigma to the modern world.
6 Feet under, being turned into an ornament or a luxury stone and being sent to space are not the only places of burial. The sea is very common, especially among sailors, for a place of burial for cultural, religious and recourse reasons. Most of the time, you are wrapped into a blanket and cast into the sea on a small boat. Don’t think luxury yacht here, more tiny wooden rowing boat.
Although ground burials are the most popular way to be buried, doing it at home are not as common. This is reserved for Spot the dog. However, some families would prefer this method of burial because they can feel close to their late family member. And never fully get over their death? Too much like Bates Motel for my liking.
When you die, some organs can remain healthy. Body and organ donations are extremely important following the advances in modern medicine and can often save lives or improve the lives of those with serious conditions. Before organ donation was possible, bodies were often used for medical experiments. Thankfully the game ‘Operation’ revolutionised medicine forever.
With the new 3D printer technology, this has opened a whole range of new opportunities for graphic designers who want to become a throw away piece of plastic. Weiki Somers has invented a process of turning human ashes into an ornament via 3D printer. Pretty cool to be fair, 3D printed burial anyone?
Become a Coral Reef
Ironic really that as humans destroy Coral around the world, they could one day contribute to saving it through their own death. There are many ways to become ‘one with the earth’ when you die as we have discussed and now becoming a Coral Reef is one of them. The company Eternal Reef place your ashes into a natural reef mould, which is then deposited into the sea as a Coral Reef burial. This will attract colourful sea life and create a wonderful spot for a bit of scuba diving. A little more fun than a wet Sunday morning trip to the Croydon crematorium.
Ashes to Portraits
Mixing ashes with paint doesn’t sound ideal, however, this can create a beautiful piece of art in the hands of the right artist. Maybe not 3 year old Daisy. But this can have a priceless and sentimental value to someone who has lost their loved one. Not one for antiques roadshow, unless it’s Elvis’s ashes, then go for it.
Get turned into a Firework
Ahhh Ohhhh Ahhhh…As we have seen, there are many imaginative, expressive and experimental ways to spread someone’s ashes or bury them but this is the most explosive. Ashes are simply added to a firework and BANG…a colourful and quick goodbye. Don’t try this at home and check with bill payer.
DJ’s rejoice. This is a great idea for a late music lover. This service allows your ashes to be compressed into a vinyl record of your favourite tune, or the most irritating tune ever if you have a sadistic side. You can even leave a voice message for loved ones to play so you can speak from the grave. Messed up if you ask me, but each to their own. Stick me on a Dire Straits record and I’ll be happy. Just make sure you get this in your wishes or will with Lexikin, that last thing you want is Mum putting your ashes in a Cliff Richard record, an eternity of Summer Holiday…