When you’re making your end-of-life arrangements, you have a lot to consider. Planning ahead of time can help take some of the funeral planning weight off of your loved ones and ensure that you get put to rest in the way that you desire.

Are you aware of all of your end of life options?

Many people are only really aware of the two primary options: burial and cremation. In reality, it goes much deeper than that.

Depending on your lifestyle, culture, and overall preferences, you may be interested in some other available options.

We’re going to detail a few of your choices here today. Keep reading to learn about your end of life options.

Burials

Many people choose burial as a traditional way to be put to rest. There’s more than one kind of burial and depending on you or your family’s wishes, you may want to choose a less traditional option.

Let’s talk about it.

1. Traditional Ground Burial

A traditional ground burial is the most popular type of burial. This is where a body is embalmed, encased in a casket, and put below the ground in a cemetery or churchyard.

Burials are fairly straightforward. You do have to make some decisions on the casket type and how you’d like your headstone or monument to represent you, but as this is a traditional method, many of these decisions are streamlined.

Burials are expensive, but they give your family the option to come to visit your grave whenever they feel like talking to you or just paying respects.

These burials are sometimes required depending on faith or culture. You may have a family plot pre-reserved.

2. Above-Ground Burial

Above-ground burials are similar to ground burials. There’s one primary difference (and you can likely guess it from the name).

These burials aren’t really “buried”. They’re encased in crypts or mausoleums. You buy these spaces ahead of time like plots. You can get a family crypt, a single section within a community mausoleum, or even a couple’s section.

3. Eco Burial

Eco burials are different. In a standard burial, the body is treated with chemicals in order to embalm it. Coffins may have cement casings and they’re often made of treated wood.

These things aren’t good for the environment, but the body is being lowered into the ground. There has to be a better way to do this.

If you’re up for it, eco burials take away a lot of the chemicals and extras from a standard burial. The body isn’t embalmed at all (though you can still have an open-casket funeral if you choose) and the coffin that it’s placed in can be made of something more environmentally friendly, like a cotton pouch or bamboo.

With this choice, you’re not contributing to environmental harm after you pass.

Cremation

Cremation is another popular choice for final planning. While it’s similar in cost to a burial, it allows your family to either keep or spread your ashes ceremoniously. Cremation won’t contribute to the overcrowding in cemeteries.

4. Standard Cremation

A standard cremation is likely what you think of when you hear “cremation”.

Your body is sent to a crematorium after the viewing or funeral. It’s put into a cremation chamber where it will be burned.

Your family can collect the ashes in a fancy or temporary urn and then decide what to do with them later. Many people keep the ashes of loved ones in a respectful area of the house. Others make them into jewelry or even paint.

You can also bury an urn if you want a burial and a cremation simultaneously.

Sometimes ashes are spread. While this is generally legal, you need permission to spread them if they’re going to be on private property. It’s commonplace to spread them in the ocean.

5. Water Based Cremation

Water based cremation is a newer type of “cremation”, though it functions entirely differently.

The process uses water and heat to help mimic the natural decomposition that a body will go through when left in water. It’s just done much more quickly.

This is more eco-friendly than standard cremation as no harmful chemicals are released into the air.

Other Options

Maybe these options aren’t right for you. You don’t feel like traditional burial suits your style, and cremation doesn’t feel right.

You do have other, more unique (and legal) options. While we don’t advise anything too wild like a Viking funeral (at least without a permit), there are a few ways to have a unique end-of-life plan.

6. Donation

Donating your body to science is a great way to contribute to the world long after you’ve passed.

This is also the lowest cost option. Many of the costs are often covered.

After your funeral, your body will be sent to the organization of your choice. Scientists and doctors will be able to use it to further their research.

Afterward, your ashes will be returned to your family, alongside a letter (if they wish) detailing how you’ve helped to benefit the scientific community.

Naturally, you don’t get to decide how your body is used. You can rest assured that it will be used well, though.

7. Coral Reef

If you want something unique, you can have your body placed into a coral reef to become part of the aquatic ecosystem.

You will be cremated first, but after, your ashes are put into a mold that makes it a perfect fit for a colorful coral reef. Fish and plants can grow around you and you’ll be providing a home for coral-dwelling creatures.

This option is different but totally cool. If you’re an ocean lover, check it out.

Your End of Life Options Are Limitless

When you’re considering your end of life options, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Consider how you want to leave your final mark on the world and see if it’s an option for you.

While there’s nothing wrong with a traditional burial, don’t just go with the default. Maybe you want to contribute to science, or be part of a reef! Choose carefully, because you can only do this once.

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