October 1, 2016

Funeral Options: You’ve Got Lots

This is the companion piece to our article The Death Care Industry.



Death may not be fun, but at least you’ve got options.  Here are just a few of the few funeral options practiced around the world.

Custom Practice
Burial in China A professional, or proxy mourner is paid to weep and perform melancholy songs after the eulogy at a funeral. Performance is said to help the family release their sorrow.
Cremation in India The deceased is carried on a bier to the cremation grounds where the body is burned on a pyre. When the body is halfway burned, a near relative performs the ritual breaking of the skull with a bamboo stick, which then is thrown into the fire.
Cremation in the Venezuelan Amazon Immediately following the cremation, bone not fully burned is ground and stored for a year. Remaining ashes are cooked in a soup and consumed. After a year, the ground bone is added to soup drunk at a feast honoring the deceased
Exposure in Mongolia Lamas preside over the open-air burial. After exercising traditional rites, the corpse is passed through a window or hole (so evil cannot slip in the door), taken away from the village, placed within a circle of stones, and left for predatory animals.
Exposure inTibet In a sky burial, the corpse is laid out on charnel ground, ritualistically dismembered, and left for native vultures to consume.
Mummification in Salt Lake City, Utah “The only organization in the world to offer this remarkable and distinguished tradition,” Summum will mummify a corpse to then be buried or laid to rest in a mausoleum.


Think being buried sounds boring? Modern technology allows for all sorts of interesting alternatives to the usual coffin for the brave.

scuba-reef_optBecome a Coral Reef: Cast your ashes into a concrete reef mold and be lowered into the ocean to create a wildlife habitat with the Eternal Reefs group.

celestis rocketStar Dust: Hire a rocket from the Celestis corporation to place your ashes into orbit around the earth or have them launched into the uncharted regions of outer space.

cryogenically frozenCryogenic Freezing: No longer merely science fiction, the hopeful dead can now be cryogenically frozen in liquid nitrogen by the Alcor company in hopes that someday advanced technology will be able to reanimate them.

funeral diamondFuneral diamonds: The carbon from cremation ashes can now be turned into all sorts of kinds of precious stones by a company called LifeGem