History and anthropology tell us that cultures past and present deal with their departed in interesting ways, such as the Vikings being launched out on ships-turned-crematoriums. Today, environmental concerns are pushing us to create new traditions: Your body in soil with a tree seed or tree sapling above nurtures the tree as it nurtures your loved ones. Alternatives to traditional burial are going mainstream. What are the different ways to spend eternity?
There is no embalming and no concrete vault. You’re buried in a more environmentally friendly manner — not only one with nature, but actually aiding nature. Use caskets that are biodegradable — paper, compressed newspapers, cotton or wood pulp; or just have your body wrapped in a cotton cloth and placed directly into the ground.
With a woodland burial, you are memorialized with a tree or a simple bronze plaque. The focus is on the natural beauty of a woodland environment, where your body provides the nutrients to the surrounding ecosystem. Some cemeteries offer green burials — there are no artificial pesticides.
A smart urn can notify your relatives when it’s time to water your tree.
Cremations: Several variations
Fifty years ago, only 4 percent of people chose this alternative to burial; today, about half of people in the U.S. opt for cremation, according to Statista, an online statistics, market research and business intelligence portal.
Traditionally, cremains are placed in an urn and a burial service is held. However, burials at sea are possible in special urns that can dissolve slowly in water. Families can retain memorial certificates.
With the “Eternal Reef” option, your cremains are blended with concrete to form a heavy orb that is placed in areas where natural reefs need restoration. Your cremains become part of an undersea habitat, providing food and shelter for sea life.
A love of science fiction or a deep desire to connect with the universe can motivate a space burial. A private rocket service shoots your cremains into space. This is going to be one of the pricier options.
You also have the option of resomation, or bio-cremation. This uses heated water and potassium hydroxide to liquefy the body, leaving only bones behind. The bones are then pulverized, much as in regular cremation, and the bone fragments are returned to the family in an urn. Resomation is more eco-friendly than regular cremation.
Whole body donation
This one doesn’t involve burying in any way, but helps doctors advance medical knowledge: You donate your body to science. The organizations you donate to cover the costs of transportation and, if necessary, eventual cremation.
Diamonds — life gems
The same process that creates diamonds can be applied to your remains. Jewelry is created from the “life gems” of loved ones. Your loved ones will be able to “wear” you after you’re gone.
Note that not all options are available in all areas, and there may be local regulations that restrict them. Also, many religions have rules and traditions. However, this should give you a sampling of the options available today.
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Enjoy Reading “New Traditions for the Hereafter”? Check out our previous post: Don’t Give Your Adult Children Your House
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