Note: We receive a commission for purchases made through the links on this site. Our sponsors, however, do not influence our editorial content in any way.
For many decades, funeral arrangements have involved either a burial or cremation. However, in recent years, many have chosen to forgo the traditional burial and opt for cremation alternatives. There are actually quite a few alternatives that have seen increased popularity in recent years.
Some of these cremation alternatives are based on old traditions from different cultures. Others are brand new and utilize today’s advancing technology. And, some allow you or the deceased to make an impact on the world after death. If you are looking for a different idea for your own funeral arrangements or that of a loved one, consider these alternatives to traditional burial options.
A burial at sea was once the primary means of an alternative burial for those who passed away while serving in the navy. Nowadays, being laid to rest at sea also appeals to those who are interested in an eco-friendly burial option. Many people already choose to scatter the ashes of loved ones in the sea. However, as a cremation alternative, you can have a full-body burial. The body is secured in a biodegradable, weighted shroud.
Instead of simply being laid to rest at sea, your remains can instead be used to build a reef. A company will produce reef material by combining your remains with concrete and other materials. The reef-like structure is placed in areas where reefs need to be restored. These new additions help to attract marine life and improve the reef environment.
There are now many burial and cremation alternatives that cater to those who would like to go green. One simple option is a green burial. Which does away with embalming and uses biodegradable shrouds or containers. But you can also opt for a mushroom burial suit. This is a natural suit made from mushrooms and other microorganisms. The suit is biodegradable and aids in body decomposition, promoting new growth in the surrounding environment.
If you want to combine cremation with going green, you can use a biodegradable tree urn. Used in conjunction with a seedling or live tree, the remains eventually create a living memorial.
As another cremation alternative, you can have your whole body encased in a biodegradable burial pod. A young tree is planted above the pod and grows into a living memorial.
Also referred to as alkaline hydrolysis, this water-based cremation alternative uses less fuel and energy than fire. Instead, heat, pressure and alkali chemicals break down the body much quicker than normal. Only bone fragments are left. When the bone fragments cool, they are processed into ashes. This option also appeals to those seeking to lessen their carbon footprint.
This cremation alternative is not legal in every state yet, but it may be soon. The body is allowed to naturally decompose and then is returned to family members as compostable soil. The soil can be used to plant a garden or trees. Family members can also simply spread the dirt where they wish.
With this cremation alternative, also known as promession, the body is immersed in liquid nitrogen. A vacuum chamber is used to remove the liquid. And the now brittle body is shaken apart by vibrations, leaving only powdered remains. This option also allows for composting once the powdered remains are mixed with water.
You can have your remains or the remains of a loved one made into a diamond. The process is similar to how natural diamonds are made, but obviously much quicker. High pressure is applied to the hair or ashes of a corpse, along with a few other processes, resulting in a very special diamond.
A unique alternative to memorial diamonds is having your ashes 3D printed into an ornament or keepsake. This opens a multitude of design possibilities for displaying your remains.
And yet another unique way to showcase your remains is to mix your ashes with paint to create a special work of art.
While not exactly a cremation alternative, an outer space burial is still a vastly different idea. Several companies in the United States offer a service where they will send your ashes into space. You can choose an area of orbit, or even send your ashes to the moon. It should be noted that the option to be sent to the moon or deep space is very expensive.
If getting your ashes sent into space seems too expensive, you can choose the second-best option: have your ashes sent into the sky with fireworks.
The mummification process has been revived by a religious organization called Summum. The organization has actually been performing this service for quite some time. However, because of the extremely high cost, it is not a very popular option.
Of course, you can also opt to avoid cremation or a burial altogether. Instead, you can donate your body to science, forensic research, or medical programs. Whatever burial or cremation alternative you choose, think about how it will impact both the world and your loved ones. If you want your family to be able to visit your remains, then obviously a burial at sea or in space is not a viable option.
However, you should also take into consideration what feels most comfortable to you as well. It might be wise to take the time to talk with loved ones and get their input. Pre-planning is also wise, as costs for several options could increase in the future. Securing a method now can save you or your family money, as well as grant you peace of mind that your funeral plans are taken care of.