By Leader Contributor Carley Pierce
As professionals in the funeral industry, we often tell those dealing with the aftermath of a death just how important it is to find a final resting place for the body or remains of their loved ones.
As our society becomes more individualized and personalization options continue to multiply, you’re missing the mark if you’re still only offering the same services you’ve had for the past 20 years or more.
We’ve searched across the world to find five of the most unique methods for final disposition. We hope you will discover new options you can offer at your firm – or maybe even help you brainstorm your own ideas that are unique to your community.
It’s estimated that nearly 4 million people participated in a global strike against climate change on Sept. 20, marking what’s believed to be the largest climate-related protest in world history. We’re seeing leaders in almost every industry move toward more sustainable choices to decrease their environmental footprint, including the deathcare industry.
Many companies are now offering options that incorporate the remains of the deceased into new life – specifically plant life.
Italian company Capsula Mundi actually creates biodegradable eggs for remains. The egg is then buried in the ground before a tree is planted on top of the egg. As the egg breaks down, the nutrients from the deceased’s body support the growth of the tree, and the tree will live on, supplying a living memorial for those left behind, as well as providing oxygen to the earth’s atmosphere.
A U.S. company, The Living Urn, takes a more DIY approach to this same idea. Although this company only works with cremated remains, this process allows families to work within their own timeframe and to plant their tree in any location they choose.
Another U.S. company is taking a page from cemeteries and transforming the idea of a memorial garden into a memorial forest. Although Better Place Forest only has two locations on the West Coast, they plan to expand across the nation. Their goal is for families to be able to walk through a forest instead of being surrounded by tombstones when they visit their loved one’s final resting place.
In a similar vein to the climate change movements mentioned above, many people are notably worried about humankind’s impact on our oceans. In 2017, National Geographic published an article suggesting we could lose all coral reef habitats within the next 30 years. Netflix has also released multiple documentaries about the unprecedented rate at which coral reefs are vanishing, stirring up a national conversation about ocean pollution levels.
Companies like Neptune Memorial Reefs, located off Florida’s East Coast, are stepping in to offer final disposition methods for ocean enthusiasts. They use a combination of cremated remains and concrete mixtures. Neptune creates artificial reefs which are then inserted into the ocean floor, creating sustainable habitats for fish and other marine life. You can find companies like this located off the coasts of many regions of the U.S.
Human composting is another relatively new green method for final disposition. Many people are leaning on recomposition as a greener alternative to cremation. In a New York Times article, the founder of Seattle company Recompose described the process of composting remains. She said the bodies are placed in a receptacle, along with organic materials like wood chips and straw, to help speed up the natural transition of human remains into the soil. The company charges an average of $5,000 for this process.
Aerial Scattering and Fireworks
Not everyone is as worried about green burial options – some people just want to go out with a bang! That’s why Greenlawn Funeral Home, Inc. offers dazzling firework displays for Missouri families. These celebratory light shows are created by mixing cremated remains with the contents of multiple commercial-grade fireworks for a five-minute display accompanied by music. Guerra Gutierrez Mortuaries in California works with aerial scattering companies, such as A Journey with Wings, to offer mile-high enthusiasts their final flight.
With vintage items making their comeback and record sales soaring, it may come as no surprise that some are hoping their memory will play on forever through the process of vinyl compression. U.K. company AndVinyly was the first to implement this process. These vinyls offer approximately 24 minutes of recorded sound – whether it’s a recorded conversation of the deceased, their favorite licensed song, or simply the crack and pop of the stylus as it confronts the ashes within each groove.
It’s important to note that not all people will be interested in non-traditional disposition methods. Depending on your geographical location, some of these options may not be available.
However, if a family is curious about alternative disposition methods, there are steps you can take to help your firm prepare for customer inquiries. If you are able to research local options and make contact with disposition providers ahead of time, you can quickly point families in the right direction.
Did we miss a final disposition option that is becoming popular in your area? Please share this with us in the comments!