Not Just Six Feet Under: Five Alternatives to Burials

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Man about to offer a rose in the burial

Talking about death is never easy. Dealing with it – and all that happens after – is even harder. Funerals can be expensive; consider the costs of burials and cremations. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of an adult funeral with a viewing and a burial in 2017 was $8,755, while a cremation cost $6,260. Fortunately, a final expense policy, sold by insurance companies, can help with paying for the funeral costs.

But what if traditional burials and cremations aren’t for you? Then you can take your pick of these alternatives.

1. Natural Burial

Natural burials, unlike most burials that we have today, are a return to the old ways. The body isn’t embalmed; it is just be wrapped in a shroud or placed in a biodegradable casket made of either cardboard or pine. There won’t be a concrete vault to line the grave, either. The idea here is that the body will decompose naturally and return to nature, benefiting the environment.

Natural burials are also less expensive than common burials. This is because there is no need for embalming, fancy metal caskets, or concrete vaults. Your family can even bring their own shroud or coffin, further reducing the costs.

2. Resomation

Also known as water cremation or bio-cremation, resomation uses potassium hydroxide and heated water to liquefy the body. This method leaves only the bones behind to be pulverized. The bone fragments are then given back to the family.

3. Eternal Reefs

Coral reefsIf you want an aquatic afterlife, you can go for the Eternal Reefs option. With this option, your cremains – the pulverized bone leftover from a cremation – are mixed with concrete to create artificial reef material. These concrete orbs are then placed underwater, near areas where reefs require restoration. They then attract fish and other undersea organisms will transform the concrete orb into their new habitat.

4. Cryonics

You may think that cryonics – the practice of deep-freezing recently dead bodies in the hopes that they’ll be revived sometime in the future when medical science has advanced – happens only in science fiction, but it is very real. It isn’t even a recent alternative; the very first body that was frozen was that of Dr. James Bedford in 1967. He remains frozen to this very day. If you want a chance to see the future, you can opt to be frozen like Dr. Bedford. There are even two options: full-body preservation and head-only preservation. They cost around $200,000 and $80,000 respectively.

5. Space Burial

If you want to go to space but didn’t get the opportunity during your lifetime, then you might get your chance, post-mortem. In a space burial, a few grams of your cremated remains will be shot into space. You can choose for your remains to orbit Earth and burn up in the atmosphere or to have yourself launched to the moon or deep space. A low-orbit journey is also available; your cremains will experience zero gravity before coming back down to Earth.

Ultimately, no matter which way you want to end up – buried in a shroud, in space, underwater – what’s important is that you communicate your wants and wishes to your family. Talking with your family and friends about what to do in the event of your death is difficult, but it is a conversation that has to be had so that your loved ones will be prepared when the time comes.