Burial and cremation are no longer the only two funeral options that you can choose from. If you’re looking to add some pizzazz into your life celebration, you are in for a treat.
Want to be a modern mummy? How about freezing your head to be resurrected in the future? Or, live your next life as an apple tree? This top 10 list will give you the low-down on the quirkiest (if not outrageous) funeral ideas to give your send off to the afterlife with a boost of personality.
*Note: Prices indicated were correct at the time of publication.
1. Going into the deep freeze with cryogenics - up to US$200,000 (AU$213,000*)
The first Australian cryonics facility is planned to open its doors in 2014. You can soon be frozen (at minus 196°C) and defrosted some time in the future when technology becomes advanced enough to reanimate the dead.
If you consider yourself as a futurist, chat to the friendly folks at Stasis Systems Australia to sign up.
2. Be a part of history as mummies - from US$67,000 (AU$71,400*)
Mummification is no longer reserved for Egyptian Pharaohs.
Likened to the Rolls Royce of the funeral industry, mummification is now offered by US company Summun, founded by egyptophile Corky Ra. You can join the 1,400 wealthy Americans who are looking to preserve themselves for the ages for the princely sum of AU$71,400.
3. Joining Mother Nature as a human tree - from £20,000 (AU$34,500*)
How about embedding your DNA in a tree?
The idea started off as a student project by Georg Tremmel and Shiho Fukuhara at the Royal College of Arts, London. The project was picked up by Biopresence, who offers the service for around $34,500.
The genetically modified apple tree (to carry your DNA) gives a new twist to the meaning “tree-of-life”. A must have for the green thumbs out there.
4. Diamonds are forever, literally – up to AU$25,000
Diamonds are girls’ best friend, but who says that boys can’t join the club too? Your ashes can be converted into a diamond (of the certified kind) and be worn as a family heirloom by your loved ones.
LifeGem, another Australian diamond memorial company, also offers a range of options on cuts and clarity. For example, you can order something like a heart-shaped diamond with a top-notch rating of VVS (very very slight inclusions),
5. Get the star treatment with space burial - up to US$12,500 (AU$13,350*)
Give your funeral a sci-fi boost and embark on a journey into deep space.
Since the cost of running a spaceflight is astronomical, you can only launch around one to seven grams of cremains at a time. Packed into a special flight container, your cremains will be loaded into the spacecraft, ready for the launch into space. Your family members can even join the launch event to view the rocket liftoff into the final frontier.
Celestis Memorial Spaceflights has been around for more than 10 years and offer various space burial options. Starting from AU$1,100, you can enjoy a low-orbit journey and experience zero gravity before returning to Earth. Want to go much further? No problem - you can also get your remains launched to the moon or into deep space for AU$13,350.
Elysium Space, a new startup based in San Francisco, also offers similar celestial service and circles around the planet in the low-orbit for AU$2,200. Elysium has also released iOS and Android app so your family and friends can keep track of where you are in the skies.
Bookings are currently only open to those who live in the US, but you can subscribe to their newsletter to get notifications when new countries are added (hopefully, Australia is next on the list!).
Elysium Space’s pretty cool iOS app
6. Be a part of the Great Barrier Reef? - up to US$6,995 (AU$7,500*)
Eternal Reefs, based in the US, aims to not only offer to turn your cremains into a permanent reef, but also provide a greener alternative to burial as artificial reefs can form new habitats for sea creatures.
Locations for reef placements are currently restricted to reef development areas in the US, mainly in Florida. In Australia, you can have a burial at sea; however, you will have to jump a few hoops since it is regulated by the Government. You will have to put in an application and pay a fee of AU$1,675 to obtain a permit for sea burial.
7. Going green with eco-friendly alternatives - up to AU$6,500
Aquamation, cryomation and resomation are green funeral methods that are relatively new in the industry. These processes have been taking off as a cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to cremation.
Aquamation and resomation both use water to liquefy the body until only bones are left. Temperature is the only difference between the two methods. Now available in Australia, an aquamation funeral will cost you around AU$1,000 and can be arranged with any funeral director of your choice.
If water funeral doesn’t really rock your boat, perhaps being freeze dried until your remains dissolve into fine dust is a more solid option for you. Kevin Hartley, an Adelaide funeral director who developed cryomation estimates 2015 to be the year when this futuristic form of burial will be widely available to Australians. Priced at around AU$900, you can go six feet greener.
8. Sing from beyond the grave with a vinyl record - from £3,000 (AU$5,200*)
It’s not over until the fat lady sings. But when she does (and you die), don’t worry, you can “live on from beyond the groove” as part of a vinyl record.
Founded in 2009 by a British music producer Jason Leach, And Vinyly can also produce a special song for you for an additional AU$870. You can even add special touches with unique artwork for your “Rest In Vinyl” album sleeve. National Portrait Gallery artist James Hague and street artist Paul Insect can mix your ashes into the paints for AU$6,100.
9. Lit up the sky like fireworks - from £1,000 (AU$1,800*)
Katy Perry sings in her hit single Fireworks: “‘Cause there’s a spark in you, you just gotta ignite the light,” and now, you can literally go out with a bang. Heavens Above Fireworks offers to pack your cremated remains into specially designed fireworks. Once lit, your ashes will scattered with spectacular multi coloured explosions.
Both companies are based in the UK, but for Australians keen for a little spark in their funeral arrangement, get in touch with Ashes to Ashes, an up and coming local company founded by Craig Hull of Redfern, NSW. Hull started off offering fireworks farewells for pets, he’s now extended his services to humans from AU$4800.
10. Tattoos are for memories – Price on Application
Got ink? Love the idea of being memorialised up your loved one’s sleeve/s (or other body parts of choice) as a commemorative tattoo?
It may not sound very hygienic, but apparently it is possible to incorporate ashes onto a tattoo with little or no side effects. The amount of ashes used is microscopic, but the most important step is for the tattoo artist to sterilise the cremains before mixing them with the ink.
Memorial tattoos are uncommon in Australia and it may be tricky to find a tattooist that is willing to perform this type of service. Best to ask first, before you resort to a DIY-kind.
In the Name of Science - FREE
Why do these funeral ideas cost so much? Aren’t there any free options?
Your body can be used as a human cadaver, which is essential to educate young doctors, or become a museum exhibit (via plastination), which of course is available for public viewing and education.
Celebrating A Life Well Spent and Putting in the (Fun) in Your Funeral
If dissection and plastination are not really right up your alley, then, it’s time to get serious.
Walter Carter Funerals
Death costs money. So when the time comes, you’d want to make sure that your life is celebrated in a fashion that truly reflects who you are with little to no financial implications on those you leave behind.
Having a life insurance policy in place can help alleviate the financial burden that often affects the surviving family unit after death. Life insurance will not only provide the means for your loved ones to meet any ongoing financial commitments after you’re gone, but also any immediate expenses at the time of your death. Regardless of the cost, the true benefit of life insurance works like a shield against ‘what ifs’ that life may throw at you until the inevitable comes round knocking at your door.
Another alternative to consider is funeral insurance. This type of cover is designed specifically to meet any expenses related to your funeral arrangement. It’s best to first work out the total cost of your funeral of choice and you can then nominate the appropriate level of funeral cover you may need.
Being prepared for your own end-of-life and funeral arrangement is not only wise, but also allows you the opportunity to throw a celebration that best reflects (your) life well spent.
If you get to choose how you would like to be remembered, what would it be?
Sources: ABC, Adelaide Now, The Age, And Vinyly, Aquamation Australia, Australian Geographic, Australian Government Department of the Environment, Canberra Times, CBS News, Celestis, Clik Hear/Palm Beach Post, CNN, Cosmos Magazine, Daily Mail UK, Daily Telegraph, Elysium Space, Eternal Reefs, Gizmodo, The Guardian, Heavens Above Fireworks, Heavenly Stars Fireworks, Huffington Post, LifeGem, Live Science, Mental Floss, MSN News, National Geographic, Neatorama, News.com.au, Phoenix Memorials, South China Morning Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Summum, TechCrunch, Time, Yahoo7.