People have many options and choices of what to do with their remains and deciding on their final resting place. Direct burial and cremation are the most popular and the most traditional choices. Other choices include organ donation (especially after traumatic deaths) or donating one's body to science.
There is a growing trend for more creative options--to be cremated and then scattered or buried at sea, to be kept in commemorative urns, to have part of one's remains sent into space or be made into works of art or jewelry.
This article reviews these final resting places from the traditional to the creative.
The traditional funeral usually includes a viewing or visitation of the body, formal funeral service, use of a hearse for transporting the body and burial, entombment or cremation of the remains.
The traditional funeral is generally the most expensive type of funeral. It involves many different services and product fees including embalming and dressing the body, rental of the funeral home and hearse, costs of casket, cemetery plot, etc.
With a direct burial the body is buried shortly after death, usually in a simple container. There is no viewing or visitation, so embalming is not needed. Direct burials are usually less costly than the traditional funeral.
A memorial service may be held at the graveside or later. If the family chooses to be at the cemetery for the burial, the funeral home often charges an additional fee for a graveside service.
With a direct cremation the body is cremated shortly after death, without embalming. The cremated remains are placed in an urn or other container. There is no viewing or visitation.
A memorial service may be held, with or without the cremated remains present.
The remains can be kept in the home, buried or placed in a crypt or niche in a cemetery, or buried or scattered in a favorite spot.
Direct cremation is usually less costly.
Delayed cremation can occur in several circumstances where the body is cremated after some time delay.
- After a funeral service, where the body is present and then cremated instead of buried.
- After the body has been donated for use by science. (Read more in next section)
- After the body has been returned some time after the death, if the body has been lost or missing for some time.
Organ Donation is the gift of life and a way of living on after a death. Many different organs and tissues can be donated.
Donating A Body to Science
Body donation may be a generous and economical choice. Medical schools need bodies for teaching and research. There is usually little to no expense for the family initially. Most medical schools pay for nearby transportation, embalming and final disposition. There may be costs later to return the remains. Check with a local medical school about their Anatomical Gift Program.
Cremation and Scattering at Sea
Neptune Society provides direct, simple cremation services without the need of going through a traditional funeral home. They also offer pre-planning options for families, so that the person can specify their final wishes about their final resting place.
Sea Memorials for Cremains
Other companies are offering alternatives options for a final resting place after a loved one has been cremated. Different companies are creating Sea Memorials where one can place the cremation urns of a loved one in a cremation memorial.
One company now, Space Services Inc. makes it possible to honor the dream and memory of your departed loved one by launching a symbolic portion of a loved ones cremated remains as a space burial:
- Into the Earth's orbit
- Onto the lunar surface of the moon
- Into deep space
Star Trek's creator, Gene Roddenberry; Psychologist, Timothy Leary; Space physicist, Gerard O'Neill and Rocket scientist, Krafft Ehricke were launched into the earth's orbit in 1997. Star Trek's Scotty, James Doohan and Mercury Astronaut, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. will be launched into the earth's orbit in 2007.
Loved ones cremains can be used in memorial jewelry or artistic pieces.
There are several options with the jewelry. One is memorial jewelry with small compartments to carry a small amount of a loved one's cremains at all times. These are popular with a child's or a pet's death.
Another is creating a diamond from the carbon or some of the cremated remains of a loved one.
Works of Art
Another unique option are commemorative urns. A small sample of the cremated remains of a loved one is fired into a special raku glaze to create an original work of art.
Cryonics is more science fiction than serious science. It is not felt by scientists to be an option for preserving the body.
Cryonics is the freezing of a seriously ill or recently deceased person to stop tissues from decomposing. Through cryogenics (or the exposure of the body to extremely low temperatures) the idea is that the body will be preserved until new medical cures are developed that might bring the person back to life again.
More Information about Cryogenics and Cryonics:
- Cryogenic Society of America - The CSA does not endorse Cryonics for future re-animation.
- Alcor Life Extension Foundation - For information on cryonics, cryonics research, and cryonics technology
More on Funerals:
More on Final Resting Places: