If you are at all as morbidly curious as I am, you’ve thought about what’s going to happen to your body after you die.
A traditional burial is expensive. The average funeral today costs anywhere from $5,000-$15,000, and around $2,000 goes straight to the casket. Then there is the ever popular cremation option which, while taking a lot of energy to do, costs about one third of that price. I have thought about both options extensively, personally siding with the idea of cremation.
Then, last year these ideas went to the next level when I read the novel, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. In it, author Mary Roach explores – in a totally compelling and hilarious way – how our postmortem bodies have aided science over the centuries.
Through Stiff, I learned about what happens when you donate your body to science. This precious meat suit of yours could be a crash-test dummy or it could end up rotting in the sun on a body farm. Or, even more fun to think about, aspiring plastic surgeons could take your shrivelling nose to new heights.
Don’t look at me like that, it’s for science! It’s not like you would know what’s happening anyway.
So what other options are there, you ask? Here are a few of the more unconventional ideas for what to do with your meat suit once you’ve kicked the bucket.
Be cryogenically frozen and made into fertilizer
A process also known as promession. This is when a body is set in liquid nitrogen, broken into pieces by vibration, is freeze-dried, and then buried. The result is a great fertilizer that has a minimal environmental impact. While no bodies have technically been through promession yet, you can find out more information about this option by visiting the official Promessa website.
Be pressed into a vinyl record
A service provided by the company Andvinyly who help you to “live on from beyond the groove.” With their expertise, you can press your ashes into a vinyl record that will play either your last will and testament, a personal recorded message from yourself, a very carefully selected playlist, or just the natural hisses and pops of your ashes.
Be turned into a firework
This gives new meaning to the Katy Perry song. While human remains aren’t able to blow up on their own, when they are mixed with professional fireworks they make for a bright and colorful goodbye. The company Heavens Above Fireworks will do this for you, and they will even tailor the displays to suit the personality of the departed.
Help a coral reef
The Eternal Reefs Project began in the 1980s by a couple of environmentally proactive college roommates. They saw the extensive damage done to the coral reefs and decided to come up with a system to help them thrive.
Enter reef balls. Reef balls are balls of human remains mixed with concrete that work to restore and nourish the reefs’ ecosystems. Yes, this means you can literally spend the rest of eternity with Nemo.
Become a tattoo
Grinding up someone’s ashes, mixing them with tattoo ink, and drilling them into your skin sounds like something only Keith Richards would do. Yet, the practice is actually growing in mainstream popularity. According to the company RedINC, the surge in ash tattoos is due to customers looking for options to make tattoos more personal.
This whole practice begs a question. While we view tattoos as being a very permanent decision, it is only permanent for the living person involved. Having your ashes in someone else’s body for the duration of their lifetime sounds like a very non-permanent resting place. So then what? You end up mixed with that persons ashes when they die only to be tattooed on someone else?
The circle of life…
Become a tree
A move that will take your carbon-based self right back to where you originally came from, the earth. A Bios Urn is a two-tiered biodegradable urn that has your ashes on the lower level and soil and a seed on the upper. When the urn is buried, it starts to degrade thereby releasing you back into the soil. Plus, you can literally be any tree of your choice, climate permitting.
Be buried in a mushroom suit
For those out there who are more keen on a traditional burial, consider the mushroom suit. This suit, when paired with a biodegradable coffin, will aid in your decomposition in a more environmentally friendly way. The suit, also known as an Infinity Burial Suit, is woven with a mushroom spore infused thread. When placed on the body post-mortem, the mushrooms will begin to grow. From there the mushrooms will digest you, thereby harbouring any contaminants released from your body (preservatives, pesticides, etc.).
Become a diamond
You know the saying, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend?” Well why not turn your best friend into a diamond!
While not for the modest of bank-account, the company LifeGem will turn your ashes into a one-of-a-kind diamond. Just fill out their online form, send in the remains, and then wait for your new sparkler in the mail.