The following is a guest post contributed by GreenAcres Woodland Burials:
When most of think about funerals, we think of traditional caskets, church and graveside services and a sprinkling of earth into an open grave. This, of course, is the traditional western funeral that we have either been too or seen countless times on TV and in movies.
Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with this type of funeral, there are alternatives that may be considered slightly less rigid and even have a lighter more convivial feel.
An End-of-life plan is something that is purely down to an individual and should be respected according the their beliefs, wishes and choice.
To look a little more into these choices, we have compiled a list of alternative funerals that are currently available in most western countries. Some may seem a little strange to a person that is a steadfast believer in the tradition funeral, but we believe that end-of-life plans should be a purely personal choice.
1. Sea Burials
Sea burials are one of the most common forms of alternative burial. They can be carried in both urns and even full sized caskets. These often float for a few minutes before gently sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Most are biodegradable allowing the deceased to become one with the ocean. These types of burials can also be carried out in rivers and in lakes.
2. Eternal Reefs
Similar to a sea burial, the eternal reef burial also involves the deceased remains being placed in the sea. In this case, however, the ashes are mixed with concrete and moulded into blocks that are placed on the ocean floor to create an artificial reef. There is a military like ceremony for the lowering of the block and you can place a brass plate onto the side of the unit.
3. Woodland Burials
Woodland burials are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. These burials take place in beautiful woodland areas that are designated as burial sites. The remains of a loved one are placed into a biodegradable coffin and lowered into the ground at a spot of their or your choosing. After a short period, the coffin will breakdown and a loved one can become part of the woodland soil.
4. Life Gems
After cremation, the ashes of a loved one can be compressed to form a carbon-based gemstone. These look rather like natural diamonds and can be cut in the same way. A life gem can then be set into jewellery, such as necklaces or rings. With the life gem, a loved one can always to close to your heart.
5. Green Burials
There is now a new form of green burial that has been adopted in Sweden. In this particular procedure, the body is frozen with liquid nitrogen then mechanically shaken. This gentle shaking crumbles the body into a fine power, which can then be placed into a biodegradable urn. Within weeks of green burials, a loved one can become part of the soil, in a natural and environmentally friendly way.
6. Space Burials
It may seem a little far-fetched, but a loved one’s remains can be sent into space. The remains can either be sent into deep space or sent to relatively low orbit around the earth. The low orbit option will see the casket container burn up through the atmosphere during re-entry. It is an expensive option, but one that has gained some popularity.
7. Body and Organ Donation
Although body and organ donation is not a form of burial, it is a choice that people have when it comes to their final wishes. Organ donation can of course help to save a life, whereas body donation can help to further scientific research to save lives in the future. Both donations can return the remains of a loved one for cremation.
8. Memorial Art
There are a number of companies that turn the ashes of a loved one into paints and ceramics. These materials can then be used to create pieces of art. A loved one’s remains can then placed in a place where you should see fitting.
An alternative burial can be an uplifting celebration of a person’s life rather than the more sombre occasion of a traditional service
Jason Webber writes on a freelance basis for GreenAcres Woodland Burials, a company that has been instrumental in revolutionising funeral organising in the UK. All of their burial parks have individual and unique characters.
Updated: July 23, 2014