What are Some Alternative Burial Options?
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What are Some Alternative Burial Options?

What are some alternative burial options? How do I add my burial requests to my Will? In this article, we'll show you a list of alternative burial options that you can request in your final wishes. Keep reading to learn more about burial options.

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There was a time when everyone opted to be buried in a casket that would be placed six feet under the ground. Some religions even made cremation controversial. But in the 21st century, people have gotten very creative in how they want to be buried - or disposed of, as the case may be. People’s final wishes often reflect their unique personalities and desires, even extending beyond the boundaries of traditional funeral customs. 

Under the Sea

It’s not just the Little Mermaid who prefers life under the sea. Some people harbor a deep affinity for the ocean, and it comes as no surprise that they would choose to be laid to rest beneath the waves. From becoming part of artificial reefs to being encased in biodegradable pods that nurture marine life, these unconventional burials offer a unique blend of environmental preservation and an eternal connection to the sea. The latest way to make this happen is through something called a “reef ball burial.” This means that you can be cremated, with your remains put inside a ”perforated concrete dome” which is known as a reef ball. The purpose of the request is for the deceased person to become part of the reef, achieving a kind of eternal life sustaining sea life.

Blast Off into Space

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, had his remains blasted into space. For those who believe that space really is the final frontier, the idea of being launched into space holds undeniable appeal. Companies like Celestis have made this possible by offering memorial spaceflights to deliver cremated remains into orbit or even onto the surface of the moon. Celestis’ lowest level package will send you into earth orbit (before being returned to the ground) and it costs a surprisingly low $2,995. Even Elon Musk got into the space cremation game. Space X offers you the chance to send your ashes on a rocket ride to outer space (unless the rocket blows up before launch, that is). Roddenberry got perhaps the greatest sendoff. Astronaut James Weatherbee carried his ashes aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia back in October of 1992. It's an otherworldly journey that allows individuals to reach for the stars, even in death.

Cremation Keepsakes

Some people like the idea of sticking a little closer to Earth, which explains the popularity of unique cremation keepsakes. Cremation opens up a world of possibilities for transforming ashes into personalized mementos. From transforming ashes into diamonds, fireworks, vinyl records, or even tattoo ink, these unconventional requests turn the departed into unique keepsakes that can be cherished by loved ones. These keepsakes are often more about the living than the dead, as people decide to take ashes from an urn and head down to the local tattoo parlor. Others have done away with the keepsake part of this and just… swallowed the ashes. Keith Richards gave a memorable anecdote about snorting his father’s ashes with cocaine.

Tree of Life

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is the tree of all life. Yggdrasil shows the location of all nine worlds that are part of the Norse views of the cosmos. It is an ash tree that connects all of these worlds together. Like the Vikings of yore, today’s nature enthusiasts also revere the life-giving symbolism of trees. They often wish to be remembered in a way that contributes to the environment. Biodegradable urns that contain seeds to grow into trees have gained popularity, allowing people to become part of the circle of life and leave behind a lasting legacy of greenery and beauty. Some people are buried in a pod beneath a tree, whereas others simply prefer other green burial methods that don’t include harmful chemicals which could damage the environment. 

Artistic Expressions

For those with a passion for creativity, unconventional burial requests often involve turning their remains into unique works of art. From having their ashes mixed into paint for a portrait or incorporated into sculptures, these requests fuse art and remembrance in a truly personalized way. Houston artist Wayne Gilbert was inspired after his uncle’s death to begin mixing human remains with pigments to create art. He now acquires (ick) ashes and mixes them with a resin, making a material that is easy to spread on a canvas. Gilbert says  has since mixed cremated remains with a resin and the occasional slur of pigment to create a granular material that can be applied to a canvas. “I just thought it set up a new dialogue,” Gilbert says, “between art and the human being.”

Posthumous Performances

Some people have expressed a desire to continue entertaining even after they are gone. Famous musicians, such as Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson, have been memorialized through hologram performances, giving fans a chance to experience their artistry again. This innovative approach ensures that the departed can keep captivating audiences even in death. 

Not everyone is okay with this level of post-life, uh, life and posthumous performances are controversial. Robin Williams did not give Disney the right to use his image and likeness after his death, fearing they would use it to make him play the genie from Aladdin over and over again. Actors are currently considering striking to prevent the studios from demanding that they be given access to the actors’ images and voices for all eternity.

Leave Instructions About Your Last Wishes

These unconventional burial requests demonstrate the diverse ways that people seek to leave their mark on the world, even beyond the grave. While these requests may seem unusual to some, they offer a glimpse into the human desire for uniqueness, personalization, and a lasting impact. Whether you want to be buried in a traditional ceremony or prefer a ritual that emphasizes your individuality, it’s important to let someone know your final wishes. You can do this by including instructions in your Will or by writing a letter. Just be sure to make your thoughts known in writing. You can also make arrangements with a funeral director before you pass away. This option can be a gift to your loved ones, who won’t have to face the stress of planning your service.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The laws of alternative burial arrangements vary according to your state and local laws. Don’t forget to consult with appropriate professionals and local officials before making any decisions regarding funeral arrangements or the disposal of human remains.

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