An increasingly popular way to be buried

— Become part of an artificial reef

Family members watch as a concrete “reef ball” — made in part with the cremated remains of their loved one — is lowered into the water off the coast of Ocean City, Md. The memorials help replenish reefs.

By Kathryn Fink

When Rob Shepherd’s wife, Beth, died of brain cancer at age 66, he knew she had wanted to be cremated. He didn’t know that six years later, he’d be waving goodbye to her remains from a boat in the Atlantic Ocean. Her ashes, now mixed in a concrete ball, were headed to the ocean floor to help form a reef.

Rob, a 69-year-old retiree in St. Louis, had been storing Beth’s cremated remains in their original plastic bag on a living room bookshelf; an urn, to him, felt too permanent. He had been planning to return her to Maryland, her childhood home — and he says it was “a gift from heaven” when he discovered a nonprofit called Eternal Reefs. Since its founding in 1998, Eternal Reefs has worked with families to create concrete “reef balls” that incorporate cremated remains, or “cremains,” and small personal items. Part memorial, part conservation method, they’re deposited to the ocean floor to replenish reef systems. The balls weigh between 600 and 4,000 pounds, and require a crane to be transported.

“I put in our two wedding rings and her favorite pair of earrings, because I know she wouldn’t want to be without her earrings,” Shepherd said in Ocean City, Md., in May, on the day Beth’s remains were placed into the sea. Her reef memorial cost $3,995 — not including the price of cremation, which is $350 on average. The median cost of a funeral with a viewing and cremation was $5,150 in 2019, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

To avoid dealing with the Transportation Security Administration — which requires specific types of containers for traveling with cremains in carry-on luggage and can prohibit their entry onto planes — Shepherd had driven Beth’s remains from St. Louis. Later that day, he watched a crane lower her memorial ball into the Atlantic — permanently becoming a part of Russell’s Reef, an artificial reef site off the coast of Ocean City. He and the other families memorializing loved ones aboard the boat clapped.

Eternal Reefs grew out of the intersection of “deathcare” — an array of products and services related to death and memorialization — and the environmental movement. Now, against the backdrop of the pandemic, the green burial industry is proliferating. A 2021 survey conducted by the trade magazine American Funeral Director found that 51 percent of respondents have attended a green burial, and 84 percent would consider one for themselves. The green approach aims to reduce the environmental impact of burial and, in some cases, uses remains to repair the destruction humans have inflicted on the earth. These options can take many forms, including coffins made of mushrooms, water-based cremation (in which water and chemicals break down the body) and biodegradable pods that use remains to grow a sapling.

Like the rest of the funeral industry, green burial is regulated. A final disposition — the legal term for what happens to your body after death — is a complicated issue. Many emerging technologies require state legalization, including a new green burial approach of composting human remains. In December, a funeral home outside Seattle became the first to legally perform the process, known as “natural organic reduction.” Several other states are currently weighing its legality.

Since Eternal Reefs’ inception, it has deployed more than 2,500 reef memorials in 30 permitted locations, including off the coasts of Florida, New Jersey and Texas. CEO George Frankel says the demand for reef memorials has grown steadily — but in the past year, information requests and advance burial plans have skyrocketed. He attributes that uptick to the pandemic. “One of the problems we’ve always had as a culture in this country is that we don’t talk about death very easily or very comfortably,” he told me. “The covid virus has forced everybody to look at their own mortality in a whole different way.”

Still, plenty of people decided to pursue this option long before the pandemic. Linda Froncak, who was memorialized in her home of Ocean City the same weekend as Beth Shepherd, made preparations for her burial in the early years of Eternal Reefs. Originally from Minnesota, Froncak died of a heart attack two years ago at age 64, which is how 22 Minnesotans ended up flying halfway across the country to the coast of Maryland, sporting custom T-shirts in her honor that said “Reefer Madness” on them.

The funeral industry, which has long hinged on tradition, is seemingly at odds with the advent of green burial. However, funeral homes vary widely in their willingness to embrace new options. Crystal van Orsdel Marchant, a fourth-generation family employee at Van Orsdel Funeral & Cremation Services in Florida, told me that her fellow millennials are all for facilitating green burial, but the industry has always been resistant to change. She points to the 1970s as an illustration: Her family’s funeral home, like most others, held out on offering cremation services even as interest grew. They eventually bought a crematory after her father told his father repeatedly that they needed one.

Five decades later, cremation has surpassed the casketed burial rate in the United States, according to the National Funeral Directors Association — and Van Orsdel Funeral & Cremation Services now offers eco-friendly burial options, including willow caskets and biodegradable urns. Van Orsdel Marchant says the funeral home may also eventually replace its fleet of hearses with electric vehicles.

Some funeral home owners told me they’ve seen only the occasional request for green burial options. Whether low interest is a symptom or a cause, though, depends on whom you ask. “Funeral homes are reluctant to change because they’re saying, well, nobody’s asking for this,” says Darren Crouch, co-founder and president of green funeral goods supplier Passages International, whose products include biodegradable urns. “If Toyota came out with a Prius 20 years ago and they didn’t put it in the front of their lot, Prius would probably not be a thing right now. We’re trying to educate funeral directors that there is significant demand.”

As for Rob Shepherd, memorializing his wife via reef ball was more than an environmental decision, and more than an homage to her love of Ocean City. It was an unusual, yet heartening, way to process loss — especially for his grandchildren in attendance, who were too young to get to know Beth when she was alive. “We all took turns stirring,” Shepherd said of the process of mixing her ashes with concrete. “We decorated around the top with some of the trinkets and flowers. And we drew pictures with sidewalk chalk on the side — hearts, and goodbyes, and ‘Miss you.’ ”

Complete Article HERE!

An urn that doubles as a planter

— It’s the latest in L.A.’s death positivity movement

Inspired by universal stories of loss, woodworker C.C. Boyce crafts custom-made wood urns for cremation remains that can be used as planters.

By Lisa Boone

When Los Angeles woodworker C.C. Boyce selects locally sourced pieces of California sycamore and speckled maple at Angel City Lumber in Boyle Heights, the artisan has powerful inspiration for her custom-made planters: the deceased.

“I never intended to get into the death care industry,” Boyce says of the planters she designs and builds in her downtown Los Angeles studio. But these are not like the planters you find at plant stores and nurseries. Her planters are, in fact, urns filled with cremated remains and topped with a living plant.

She is turning urns into vessels for life, inspired by universal stories of loss.

“It has been such a rewarding experience,” she continues. “Especially during the pandemic. It felt good to know that I was helping people. We all felt that hopelessness while sheltering in place. It emphasized that you never know what someone is going through.”

Urns have been around for thousands of years, but the funeral industry has been slow to update them for the 21st century home.

Often, Boyce says, clients will reach out to her because they are struggling to find an urn “good enough” for their loved one. A person’s essence is eternal, after all, which explains why so many of us want to keep a part of our loved ones close after they have died.

Artisan C.C. Boyce demonstrates where cremation remains are placed in the bottom of a “Planturn” — a custom-made wood urn to hold cremation remains.

Their singularity is also what makes it so hard for us to process their absence, which is why so many urns end up gathering dust on bookshelves and inside closets. In some instances, Boyce’s clients have waited so long to find an appropriate resting place for their loved one, they can’t remember where they placed the ashes.

“I had a man message me that his wife died three years ago and he had given up trying to find something for her because everything was ugly, mass-produced and not her style,” Boyce says. “Another man said his design-savvy partner would be so angry with him if he put him in something ugly. I hear a lot of stories like that.”

Her untraditional designs are a part of the emerging death positivity movement, a largely women-driven attempt to shatter taboos and discomfort regarding death. You can see it everywhere when it comes to death services: in death doulas, green burials, diamonds created from ashes, death cafes and human composting known as natural organic reduction.

Urns, in particular, have been long overdue for a makeover.

People don’t like the fact that urns look like urns because they remind us of the morbid caricature of death, says Jill Schock, a Los Angeles death doula who works primarily with terminally ill cancer patients.

“The shape of the traditional urn is so embedded in our psychology,” says Schock. “We all have unconscious anxiety about death. When people see a traditional urn in your living room, they immediately know what it is and it makes them uncomfortable.”

She estimates that more than half of her clients, and Baby Boomers in particular, choose cremation over more traditional and costlier burials.

Enter Boyce’s Planturn, a modern, minimal and decorative cremation urn ($250-$600) composed of two pieces of wood and topped with a living plant. While many urns are vase-shaped, Boyce’s urns are geometric and created with woods sourced from fallen trees and coated in an eco-friendly finish.

The urns come in three sizes to accommodate pets and humans along with a muslin bag to hold the cremains and are topped with a plant holder. Boyce recommends succulents, cactuses and air plants because they don’t mind being crowded and don’t need a lot of water.

The top and the bottom of the urn are secured by strong hidden rare-earth magnets to create a seamless piece, often from two types of wood or cork. Sometimes people share stories with her, and sometimes they don’t. “They often have a lot going on,” Boyce says. “Grief affects people differently, and I try to respect that.” Over the last year, she has made urns for pets, parents and grandparents, a 19-year-old woman, a 2-year-old who died of leukemia, and an infant. “Those are heart-wrenching,” she says. “I use speckled maple for infants because it represents innocence.”

Boyce, 47, grew up in Wisconsin, the daughter of an engineer who installed a family wood shop in the basement. When she was 5, she attended her first funeral, an event she remembers vividly.

“They laid out my great-grandmother’s body at the wake, and everyone paid their respects,” she recalls. “I remember being curious and unafraid. They put a rosary in her hands, and I remember playing with it. The funeral director got miffed, and my mom told him to allow it because she was my great-grandmother. My mom was the one who made it so that death was not taboo, that it was something that should be acknowledged and talked about. A lot of people are uncomfortable with death. I’m not.”

Thirteen years later, during her freshman year of college, she experienced a series of losses so staggering, she worried her college professors didn’t believe her when she said she missed multiple classes to attend funerals. “I lost five people close to me in one year. Young, old, expected, tragic. An accidental overdose. A murder. A 4-year-old cousin was killed in a car accident.”

Last year, she lost her mother to COVID-19, and had two pets die.

A closer look at the Planturns: Boyce recommends airplants and succulents to top them off.

The interweaving of death and craftsmanship clearly inspires her work.

“Experiencing so much loss has taught me to hold on to empathy,” she says. “I never really lose sight of what people are going through. Sometimes people don’t take pet empathy seriously, but I do. I’m always willing to listen. And I always think about the people who died as I make each urn. Sometimes I try to match the wood to the pet’s fur.”

Her clients are grateful to have something so personal that reminds them of the ones they lost.

Julie Maigret, a Los Angeles interior designer who purchased a Planturn for two departed dogs and a cat, says no one has ever guessed that the planter in her living room is an urn. “I tend to it like a little garden,” she says. “I have something beautiful that reminds me of my pets. I placed a tiny trailing plant in the urn not realizing it is called red stem tears. There is nothing out there like what C.C. is making and that’s symbolic of the being that you lost. That’s very powerful.”

Juggling restaurant work and custom woodworking jobs since 2015, Boyce made her first Planturn in 2018 as a custom request for a friend’s father. Thinking it was a one-off, she was taken aback when she received an avalanche of positive responses after sharing the planter-urn on her Instagram account.

Boyce’s first thought on reading the comments was: “Am I on to something?”

For a year, she researched cremation, urns and the death care industry as she built prototypes in a variety of shapes and sizes. In 2019, she launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to help buy the equipment she needed to make the urns in an efficient manner. When she was laid off from her restaurant job in March 2020 due to the pandemic, it was the impetus she needed to pivot to making Planturns full time.

“I thought, ‘We’re in a pandemic, and I make cremation urns. Houseplant sales have skyrocketed. It’s now or never. I didn’t think I could quit my job until the urns were more successful. But as it turned out, I had to make the urns successful because I lost my job.”

As someone who deals with death regularly, Schock has seen how customized urns like these can help people process death.

“I know that people who have lost someone enjoy being around their remains,” she says. “This is the reason why people visit a cemetery or have an urn: They want to be close to their loved ones. It’s important to have the urn out and smile and think there’s my loved one, pet or child.”

That is Boyce’s mission.

Complete Article HERE!

Pagan BURIAL RITUALS of ancient Russia

By Georgy Manaev

From ancient times, different peoples living on Russian territory practiced a wide variety of burial rites. There were the Slavic kurgans, the underground house tombs of Altai, the above-the-ground burials of Siberian peoples, and many more.

When Christianity came to the Russian lands in the 10th-11th centuries, it meant changing or outright erasing the Pagan traditions previously active among the many different peoples that inhabited the territory of modern Russia. With the development of the Russian state, Christian Russians conquered and subdued the lands to the East – the Urals, and then Siberia.

Christianization of the newly conquered territories was an inseparable part of the process of conquest. And Christian burial rites slowly replaced indigenous ones. Still, archaeological and historical sources managed to preserve a wealth of information about how the various peoples of Russia buried their dead before Christian burial rituals started prevailing. Let’s take a brief look at the variety of these indigenous burial rites.

Above-the-ground burials

An above-the-ground burial found in a Russian forest
An above-the-ground burial found in a Russian forest

It appears that above-the-ground burials were practiced among the peoples of Russia long before Christianity. Russian folk tales have preserved echoing mentions of such rituals. Baba Yaga, the evil witch, lives in a hut standing on chicken legs deep in the forest. This hut has no windows or doors, and Baba Yaga has a “bone leg” – apparently, here the tales describe an above-the-ground burial, a carcass interred into a wooden casket, placed on wooden pegs.

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A “hut on chicken legs,” in Russian folk tales – the house where Baba Yaga, an old witch, lives. Notice the similarity between the hut and the above-the-ground burial

The Mokshas, a Mordvinian ethnic group living in Central Russia, are known to have practiced burying their shamans this way. Later, during Russia’s christianization, most such gravesites were destroyed, but the burial practice itself remained in use in Siberia for centuries to come, as the Russian state was slow in conquering and controlling Siberia.

The Moksha women in traditional clothes, circa 1900
The Moksha women in traditional clothes, circa 1900

The Nenets people are the largest ethnic group of Siberia. In their view of the afterlife, a human’s soul after death continues the way of life it led during its lifetime. So, it was very important for the Nenets people to bury their dead fast. On the next day after death, the body was transported to the graveyard site using deer.

The Nenets graveyards were usually located on hilltops. After the body was brought there, it was placed inside a wooden casket along with tools, weapons and other things the deceased might need in the afterlife – all these things were bent or broken beforehand so that they could be used in the afterworld. The deer that transported the body were sacrificed at the place of the burial. But it was not a burial in the strict sense, because the Nenets didn’t bury their dead – the frozen northern land did not allow digging deep holes, so the casket was covered with brushwood and left on the site. The villagers didn’t maintain the graves either – the bodies were left to decompose naturally. If infants or children died, their bodies were hanged in sacks on the tree branches, a kind of ‘sky burial.’

Ethnographer V. Vasilyev and a Yakut above-the-ground burial in Yenisey region, Siberia, 1905
Ethnographer V. Vasilyev and a Yakut above-the-ground burial in Yenisey region, Siberia, 1905

The Buryat people, who live in the Baikal region and nearby, also practiced above-the-ground burials. They dressed their dead relatives in their finest clothes, laid them on the ground with weapons, tools and elements of horse harness, and then covered them with earth, stones or brushwood. They tried to place the body where wild animals are found, so that the soul could quickly go to its ancestors.

The Altai house-tombs

The excavation of a Pazyryk burial. Logs of the underground

In the 1990s at the Ukok plateau in the Altai Republic of Russia, vast burial grounds were discovered by Russian archaeologists. The barrow-type burials, or kurgans, as they are called in Russia, belong to so-called Pazyryk culture – the ancient Scythian society that inhabited the territory in the 5th-4th centuries B.C.

The most notable find was the so-called ‘Siberian Ice Maiden’, a tattooed shaman woman buried with six sacrificed horses and a lot of treasures. But it was just one of many burials where the body was astonishingly well preserved because of the waters that inundated the burial sites and then froze, preserving the graves’ contents embedded in ice.

The scheme of Pazyryk burial chamber: the state of the burial when it was discovered (L), the reconstruction of the burial chamber (R).
The scheme of Pazyryk burial chamber: the state of the burial when it was discovered (L), the reconstruction of the burial chamber (R).

The Pazyryk kurgans were indeed houses made for the dead. A full log cabin was placed underground, with a separate room inside for housing the body. Fully dressed, it was placed in a log casket, and around the casket, the belongings needed for the afterlife were placed – horses, harnesses, carpets, weapons, and even carts and chariots. Of course, only noble and wealthy Pazyryk were buried in such an expensive and complicated kind of way.

Slavic kurgans

An ancient kurgan in Teplyi Stan, Moscow
An ancient kurgan in Teplyi Stan, Moscow

A kurgan is a type of tumulus (burial mound) constructed over a grave. Mostly, kurgans were constructed for the wealthy and noble people – warriors, princes and so on, and were usually just small steep hills formed over the gravesite. Kurgans spread into much of Central Asia and Europe during the 3rd millennium BC.

“The funeral feast over Oleg the Prophet,” by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1899. Note the relatives of Prince Oleg mourning on top of the freshly created kurgan, while Oleg’s warriors and friends drink and mourn below.

There are still a lot of Slavic kurgans in Central Russia, but all of them are now just kurgan sites – during the long history of their existence, all visible kurgans have been looted in search of treasures. Still, we know how kurgan burials were performed.

A group of kurgans near the Meglino Lake, Novgorod region, Russia
A group of kurgans near the Meglino Lake, Novgorod region, Russia

A kurgan could be constructed quickly by bringing a mass of earth together and surrounding the foundation with stones or wooden logs. The body of the deceased was dressed in the best clothes, and a funeral feast was held, along with the cremation of the body. The remains were then interred inside the kurgan and covered with earth and stones. Along with the body, weapons, armor, household utensils, money, and other items could be interred. No tombstones or other signs were placed atop Slavic kurgans.

Dolmens

A dolmen near Zhane river, Krasnodar region, Russia
A dolmen near Zhane river, Krasnodar region, Russia

Dolmens, ancient megalithic tombs, are so old that we don’t even know the cultures they originated from. Dolmens date back to 3000-2000 B.C. In Russia, most are located in the North Caucasus.

Created from sandstone and limestone, dolmen tombs usually have four walls and a roof. A hole is cut in one of the walls, most likely for placing the body inside the closed chamber. Stone stoppers would then be used for closing these holes. Dolmens could have been covered with earth kurgans, also.

No traces of kurgans or human remains inside the dolmens were found, because of the very old age of the structures. But we can be sure they were used as tombs: they are astronomically oriented, with some clearly used as family crypts, and others as sanctuaries.

Complete Article HERE!

2,000-year-old Roman coffin unearthed in UK, enlightens on funeral rituals

Inside the casket was the remains of a body laid to rest in a prone position, and another body was laid at the feet of the first.

Remains of a roman bath in Bath, Somerset, UK

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF

A 2,000-year-old Roman stone coffin containing the remains of two people has been discovered in Sydney Gardens in Bath, UK, shedding light on ancient funeral practices.

The coffin, or sarcophagus, was unearthed during ongoing excavations at the site as part of restoration work.

The coffin, said archeologist Kelly Madigan, is a “rare glimpse” into the funeral practices that were common 2,000 years ago.

The coffin was made from Bath limestone and was found in a grave approximately two meters long, 60 centimeters wide, and 50 centimeters deep. The north-facing angle of the coffin suggests that it was a Pagan burial, according to experts.

Inside the casket was the remains of a body laid to rest in a prone position, on its chest, and another body was laid at the feet of the first.

Also found alongside the coffin were small red and blue beads, and a pot, possibly used to offer food as part of the Pagan burial ritual.

“Having a human skeleton directly associated with a coffin is a rarity and to have this one associated with a probable votive offering and nearby human cremation, allows a very rare glimpse into funerary practices in the region almost two millennia ago,” said Magidan.

Sydney Gardens in Bath is a former 18th century pleasure garden currently undergoing building conservation and landscape work which previously led to the discovery of a Roman wall.

A license obtained by the excavation team from the UK Justice Ministry will allow the archaeologists to handle and manage the human remains, and will require that the bodies be reburied within a legally certified burial ground by 2026. 

While further tests and analyses are being done, however, the remains will be kept in an undisclosed safe and private location.

“I’m beyond excited to find out the results of the assessment which is currently ongoing in our labs and hope that it in turn lends itself to an interesting analysis phase where we can delve deeper into just who the people we found in the coffin were, where they were from and their health and welfare,” said Madigan.

Complete Article HERE!

This is what ‘tree burials’ are like in Japan due to lack of space in cemeteries

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The families place the ashes on the ground, and plant an endemic species, forming forests in memory of the deceased.

Funeral rituals have accompanied human beings since they have notion of self. The earliest recorded burial is in Kenya, dating back 78,000 years. It is one of the oldest indications we have of a transcendence-oriented thinking: to the possibility that there is something beyond our earthly understanding.

With the advance of urbanization, and the apparently irreversible trend of population growth on the planet, the spaces to deposit the organic remains of the people has been compromised. We no longer fit. Given the situation, burials in Japan have had to take a new direction, which affects less the environment and appeals to a contemplative sense of eternal rest.

Rest in the shade of a tree

Natasha Mikles has dedicated her life to exploring the alternatives that exist to face death in the world. With the climate emergency in tow, the expert in philosophy from the University of Texas considers that the appropriation of physical land in favor of funeral practices it is simply no longer an option.

In recent years, Mikles has focused his study on Buddhist funeral rituals and narratives about the afterlife. In these Asian traditions, death is not understood as an end point. Rather, it is one more phase of the wheel of karma, and a step forward in the path to enlightenment.

Many times, however, the author acknowledges that “environmental needs collide with religious beliefs“, As detailed in his most recent publication for The Conversation. Rest perpetually under the shade of a tree in a public green area it could be an option, as is being seen in burials in Japan today.

A new way to face death

burials in Japan

It is not the first time that burials in Japan have been practiced in this way. Since the 1970s, there has been a record of Japanese public officials fearing for the lack of funeral space for the population, particularly in urban areas. The problem deepened in the 1990s, when more serious alternatives began to be implemented throughout the island.

It was then that Jumokusō was thought of, which translates into Spanish as “tree burials.” In these, the families place the ashes on the ground, and plant an endemic species on site to mark its final resting space. In this way, instead of building more cemeteries, entire forests would be planted in memory of the deceased.

This principle leans from the Shinto tradition, which finds value in all the vital manifestations of the universe. For this reason, the spaces dedicated to this type of funeral rites are considered sacred: there is an intrinsic spiritual value in life that ends to make way for a new.

We suggest: Natural organic reduction: this is what ecological burials are like that turn your body into human compost

Do burials in Japan of this type interfere with traditional practices?

burials in Japan

Many of the families that have implemented this strategy of sacred greening of public spaces they don’t even practice Shintoism, or are affiliated with a specific religious tradition. However, the interest in continuing this type of practice denotes a environmental responsibility extended throughout the population.

Despite this, these burials in Japan also obey an ancient Buddhist principle. Like the plants are considered sentient beings, it is a way to continue the reincarnation cycle for the soul that departed. Seeds embody a living component of this path, and therefore, they must protect themselves with the same honor.

The practice has been so well received that various temples and public cemeteries have adopted it as part of their agenda today. The model has been so successful that some Religious spaces promote it as part of the spiritual life of people. Although they do not necessarily align with the ancient practices originally proposed by Buddhism, they do obey the precept of respect for existing forms of life, which sets the standard for all branches of this spiritual tradition.

Complete Article HERE!

3 Ideas for Personalizing a Funeral Service to Honor a Loved One

In This era, personalizing a funeral service is considered a standard rather than a preference. Some families start to recognize and plan for a meaningful

In This era, personalizing a funeral service is considered a standard rather than a preference. Some families start to recognize and plan for a meaningful

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In This era, personalizing a funeral service is considered a standard rather than a preference. Some families start to recognize and plan for a meaningful service that helps understand the real meaning of life. That is a crucial part of one’s life as well.

The aspect of remembering them long after they are gone and providing them with a quality service that does them and their lives justice is important in more ways than one.

That is why planning a funeral is not a one-size-fits-all. Each family may want to recognize their loved one’s and their lives in a different way. It makes sense too, as each family is different. They may have different cultures, values, traditions, and practices in how they seek to recognize the death of a loved one. This indicates that traditional funerals are now becoming a distant memory. Currently, there are many ideas for personalizing a funeral service to honor your loved ones.

Easy Personalization Ideas to Honor a Loved One

Nowadays, families see funerals as a performance of crowning consisting of a stage made, which contains props that make it different.

Here are a few compelling ideas and ways to honor a loved one in a more custom and unique way at their funeral service in your area. Recall that these ideas can serve as a starting point and then can transform into other ideas as you figure out what is right for you, your family and your loved ones.

Let us discuss the three main primary ideas below.

1. Designing a Memory Table

When we talk about the essential idea for personalizing funeral service is to create a memory table. One can do a lot of things on a memory table. The memory table can be set as stations that indicate the chapters or passions of the deceased loved one. By designing a memory, a table will always help you to think about your loved ones, and they will always stay alive in your memory!

2. Create a Social Memorial Website for the Deceased Person

To keep the memories alive, we can create a website that can be shared with all the family members of the family. A social memorial website is considered to be an obituary. It can include a Facebook page where anyone can share photo albums, family trees, and memories with the deceased individual anytime from anywhere in the world. This can be done to tribute to the loved ones.

3. Select Meaningful Sympathy Flowers

Flowers are always considered best in any of the events. That is why flowers are given in even funeral service as well. This is an excellent way to customize the ceremony of the deceased loved one. One may select the favorite roses or flowers. One can also pick petals of different colors. You can easily find unique and creative ideas to choose flowers traditionally used to give to loved ones.

This is quite crucial in honoring your loved ones, the right partner can help to make that event even more memorable.

Complete Article HERE!

You can’t choose an afterlife.

But you can choose what happens to your body after your life.

Gravestones at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Jan. 2.

There are many options for what happens to your body after your death. But there’s only one real way to give it a long afterlife.

By Adam Larson

Gardeners can be very picky about the kind of compost they use, but this year Washington-based business Recompose has begun making it from a new ingredient: human remains. Intended as an eco-friendly funeral alternative, interested parties should perhaps be forewarned: It takes a couple of months to go from corpse to compost.

But (legally) composting yourself or a recently departed loved one is by no means the only unusual alternative to traditional burial or cremation.

You — or someone’s remains for which you are legally responsible — can now be buried in a suit made of cotton and mushroom spores, intended to make a person’s body into fungus food. (The process also claims to clean heavy metals from the deceased’s remains before they seep into the soil.)

If one is a fan of the ocean, there are companies that will take cremated remains and incorporate them into artificial reefs to act as a home for coral and fish.

The deeper question you might want to ask may be why we care what happens to our dead bodies at all.

If you’d prefer your earthly remains to stay closer to your loved ones (or they would prefer to keep your remains close), your post-cremation ashes can be made into a diamond and worn as jewelry or transformed into a glass paperweight for a bizarre cubicle talking piece.

Conversely, if you’d rather get away from Earth altogether, you could have your ashes shot into space, where they would then orbit the Earth before disintegrating upon future re-entry. If you’d like to really get away, your ashes could be shot out of orbit and into deep space. That is what was done with the remains of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto; his remains came within 8,000 miles of the dwarf planet and are currently over 4 billion miles from Earth.

After hearing the many options of what to do with your body after you’re done using it, you might have some questions. But the deeper question you might want to ask may be why we care what happens to our dead bodies at all.

Part of the issue is that many religions believe what happens to our remains is important. Hindus cremate their dead because they believe their souls will only leave their bodies if forced to leave. Zoroastrians believe that dead bodies are impure and must be disposed of properly. Ancient Egyptians believed their bodies needed to be preserved because they were the vessels that contained their spirits.

If you actually want to make a difference after you’re gone, there are better choices.

But even people who don’t hold beliefs about the importance of the physical body in the afterlife still follow funeral customs. Around the world, most people (even those without a belief in an afterlife) would be weirded out by the prospect of the body of a loved one (or their own body) being unceremoniously tossed into a landfill, which is strange when you think about it. After all, it’s not as if dead people need their bodies for anything: They’re dead.

Clearly, another part of the human adherence to funeral rituals across time and cultures has to do with a desire to be remembered after we are gone and the idea that we now express as some version of “funerals are for the living.” A gravesite can help keep the memory of the deceased alive for their remaining loved ones, give mourners a specific place to commemorate the dead and make them feel closer to the deceased. But if you really think about it absent our cultural norms, even this is a bit odd, because you aren’t actually closer to the person who died at a gravesite.

You’re just closer to their corpse or ashes, and regardless of your personal belief system, you probably actually consider the intangibles of a person — whether you want to call that their heart or their soul or their mind — the essence of what makes them who they are, rather than their physical body.

Yet while we know that, we still have difficulty separating the idea of the mind from the body. Perhaps that’s because we can’t communicate with other humans without interacting with a physical body to some degree. Disrespecting a person’s remains, no matter how little they “are” the person anymore, still feels like disrespecting the person.

Part of the human adherence to funeral rituals across time and cultures has to do with a desire to be remembered after we are gone

So why, then, do some people want their bodies to become compost, coral reefs or mushroom food? A major motivator seems to be concern for the environment. The embalming fluid used to keep remains presentable for typical American funerals is good at preserving dead things but can also make other things die (if, for instance, it’s ingested by underground organisms — though U.S. regulations mandate that caskets be sealed to avoid things inside from leaking outside).

And while cemeteries only cover a tiny fraction of the Earth’s surface, they are often located in cities, where land can be in short supply, and severe water events like floods can cause serious issues for the living, who generally prefer that caskets (and the bodies inside them) stay buried.

Plus, traditional funerals and burials can be prohibitively expensive. Add to that a general decline in people practicing organized religion, and it means that more people in the United States are not restricted by the rules and regulations of faith traditions that might prohibit certain post-death practices.

Cremation, then, is often seen as a more eco-friendly (and much less expensive) alternative to burial, but burning the deceased’s remains releases greenhouse gases and mercury into the atmosphere — although a relatively new form of cremation produces fewer emissions and uses less energy.

After hearing the many options of what to do with your body after you’re done using it, you might have some questions.

So becoming compost — or something similar — seemingly lets your body do some good after you’re gone. The opportunity to help others is the ethos behind the similar, but much older, practice of Tibetan sky burials (though, in a sky burial your body provides sustenance for vultures instead of hydrangeas).

But if you actually want to make a difference after you’re gone, there are better choices than turning your body into compost or vulture food. You can make compost out of human remains or the leftovers you forgot at the back of the refrigerator, but only one of those can save lives when used in a different way.

First and foremost, you can register as an organ donor. You won’t need your kidneys after you shuffle off this mortal coil, but there are more than 80,000 Americans who could use them right now and a single organ donor could potentially save eight lives.

While organ donation generally still leaves people with the option for burial, cremation or composting, there’s another option: donating your remains entirely to science. Donated bodies are used to train the next generation of doctors in medical schools, provide insight into human variation and even reveal how our bodies naturally decay — to help forensic anthropologists identify murder victims and catch their killers. Like organ donation, donating a body to science can save lives.

You might not get the chance to save the lives of others while you’re alive. But you do have the chance to make a simple decision while you’re still with us that can help others live longer after you’re gone.

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