Death is not a pleasant topic. Not just because of its finality, but more so because someone we love and care for will no longer be with us. When someone we love begins to plan their funeral or talk about their will, we automatically want to tune them out or change the subject.
My mother will be 77 this year and the idea of not having her in my life is a little alarming. Despite that, I know that my siblings and I will one day be tasked with the planning and executing of her final wishes. Thankfully, she has these written down and we will follow them as she wishes. I mentioned in my previous post about planning your own funeral or memorial service because it’s vitally important to your loved ones, as they are faced with not only their loss, but the responsibility of planning your service the way you would have wanted to be remembered.
Having said that, what choices do we have in regards to our funeral and memorial services? I prefer to call them Celebrations of Life and for the rest of this post, that is what I will refer to them as. We are all aware of the traditional burial option. There is the embalming process, the purchase of a casket, the service, a speaker, maybe music, the burial, pallbearers, etc. The list can go on and on. And for most of us, this is just fine. But what about those of us who want something different?
I’ve listed a few options below, included information about them, and if possible I’ve included links to websites where you can get more information.
- Cremation – According to http://www.cremationassociation.org the first crematories in Europe were built in 1878 in England and Germany. In North America, there were two recorded instances of cremation before 1800, but the real start began in 1876 when Dr. Julius LeMoyne built the first crematory in Washington, Pennsylvania. Cremation is the process of using intense heat to vaporize and oxidize the body. Ashes are then giving to loved ones to do with as they wish. Some spread the ashes over childhood homes, places they loved, or are kept in urns in many homes. Your local funeral home should have more information regarding the process they prefer as well as the cost involved.
- Resomation – This process is also known as bio-cremation uses heated water and potassium oxide to liquefy the body, leaving only bones behind which are then pulverized into ash and given to the loved ones. The liquid can be used for fertilizer and is eco-friendly. According to the Live Science article written in 2011, only one facility in Florida was operational for resomation. Check your local laws or with your local funeral home to see if resomation is legal or available in your state.
- Organic Burial Pods – This burial method originated in Italy where the designers created an organic, biodegradable pod that actually transforms the body of the deceased into a tree. The body is encapsulated in a fetal position then buried in one of the pods and an actual tree is planted above the pod. You can pick the kind of tree you’d like to become and as the body decomposes it will become nutrients for the tree it is planted under. For more information check out their website at https://www.capsulamundi.it/en/ And as always, be sure to check your local laws and availability.
- Biodegradable Urns – This also allows you or your loved one to become a tree after death by using 100% biodegradable materials. Essentially your ashes are mixed with the seed and nutrients essential to germinate the seed in this biodegradable urn. Check out their website at https://urnabios.com/product/incube-order/ and be sure to check your local laws and availability.
- Heavens Above Fireworks – Much like the name, you can send your loved ones ashes into the heavens above once they’ve been mixed with the fireworks display of your choice. If you truly want to be sent off in a dramatic display, this is for you. You can check out their website here http://www.heavensabovefireworks.com/index.php/home/
There are several more options including Eternal Reef, a pencil made from your remains, a diamond ring, and artful ashes which creates your ashes into a spectacular glass art piece. All of these options can be researched online including whether or not they are available in your area.
The point is you don’t have to do the traditional funeral process that many of us have been led to believe is the only way. An informed funeral director will give you the options available to you in your state.
If your goal is to be eco-friendly, an article written by Fritz Stahlbaum in 2016 for Organic Life is filled with options for the green-minded. Here is the link to his article https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/wellbeing/the-7-most-earth-friendly-burial-options
With all of this information, it is imperative to plan your own Celebration of Life and with the help of a Humanist Celebrant as well as an informed funeral director, you can create the Celebration of Life ceremony as it suits you and your life.
Feel free to post comments, questions, or links to other ideas and options. I look forward to your responses.
In my next blog I will discuss the Baby Naming Ceremony and share ideas for this incredibly sweet and loving life cycle event.
Have a great weekend!