Thinking Outside the Box
No one really wants to think about their own funeral, but like it or not, this event typically ranks among the most expensive purchases a consumer makes in their lifetime. According to the Federal Trade Commission, many funerals cost more than $10,000 and for some, the casket alone can cost much, much more.
With so much money on the table, you might as well take a minute to think about all of your options. We’ve rounded up a few of the more unusual methods that people have used to bury loved ones. Some of these are legitimate options that may be more cost-efficient or better for the environment, others are just plain weird.
Photo Credit: Phil Scoville
When you think about the burial process, many conjure up the image of a coffin being lowered into the ground where it is laid to rest. But one inventor is looking to change the way we think of coffins and the burial process itself. Earlier this year, Donald Scruggs, a longtime engineer, introduced the idea of a screw-in coffin, which goes into the ground vertically in order to save space. Scruggs has received a patent for the idea, but at the moment, it has yet to be manufactured.
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Buried Without A Coffin
Some people want a fancy casket, others want none at all. Last year, NPR featured a story about one ecologist who specifically asked to be placed straight into the ground, without being placed in any kind of coffin. As NPR noted, several ecologists over the years have expressed this desire to buried without a coffin so that their bodies can decompose and spread into the earth, turning into new life, rather than wasting away in a box.
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Who says you have to be buried in the ground? You can also bury your remains at sea, which is supposedly more cost-efficient, at least according to SeaBurial.com. If you are interested in pursuing this option in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency notes that the remains must be buried three miles out from land. Otherwise, you need to get a permit.
From what we've seen the more common option is to toss cremated remains in the ocean, but some have tossed bodies as well. However, be warned, the downside of burying someone’s body in the sea is it may float up to the surface at a later date.
Photo Credit: Cuba Gallery
It may not be the catchiest name for a burial method, but resomation has been praised by some as the most environmentally friendly way to be buried. With resomation, bodies are placed in an alkaline solution and dissolved until they turn into a pure white dust. This process, though it may sound strange, is supposedly better than cremation as it results in less carbon dioxide emissions. It is currently legal in six states: Maryland, Minnesota, Maine, Colorado, Oregon and California.
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Other cultures have vastly different ways of handling the dead than are typically practiced in the U.S. The Egyptians built pyramids to memorialize the remains of elite members of their society, groups in Tibet place people’s remains on mountain tops where they are eaten by vultures and various groups in Australia, British Columbia and even the southwest portion of the U.S. were known to place shrouded human remains in tree tops to decompose. It may be a cultural tradition, but that last one just doesn’t really sound like the best idea. After all, what goes up must, you know, come down.
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Shooting Your Remains From A Canon
Hunter Thompson, a renowned journalist and author, lived a unique life, to say the least. So it should have come as little surprise when he decided to have a different kind of funeral. After he died in 2005, Thompson’s friends and family followed one of his repeated requests and shot his ashes out of a cannon. As his wife remarked at the ceremony, “He loved explosions.”
Photo Credit: warrenski
Shooting Your Remains Into Space
If the earth, sea and trees aren’t good enough for your remains, there is one other option: You can shoot your remains into space. No, this option isn’t for everybody, especially since it is expensive (although not as much as you’d think). Also, it’s not guaranteed to work. Celestis, a company that handles memorial space flights, made headlines in 2007 and 2008 when it was announced they were launching the ashes of James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty in Star Trek, into space. Unfortunately, the company tried and failed multiple times to launch a rocket with his ashes – along with the remains of more than 200 others – into space, and in the process, the company lost some of the remains.
Photo Credit: Navicore
Funeral Money Wasters
If you are looking for a more conservative funeral and are mostly concerned with the cost, the truth is that cremation may be the way to go. As we’ve reported before, the cost of cremation can be less than $2,000, whereas the cost of a burial and casket may be four or five times that amount.
However, the burial method isn’t the only big cost factor for your funeral. There are also added fees and the cost of a memorial service. MainStreet breaks down these charges to help you figure out what you should and shouldn’t pay for.
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