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Crazy Funeral Ideas That Are Cheaper Than a Burial


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My grandmothers on each side died three years apart. Their funerals were entirely different but both had one thing in common: Both felt weird to me, involving funeral home directors trying to sell my surviving family members on their services.

At each, I walked through showrooms of coffins and urns, similar to car dealerships. I reviewed prices in a binder, similar to wedding venues.

The strangest thing to me was listening to a sales pitch at a cemetery right after the casket was lowered. But a funeral home is a business. A lucrative business, at that. The industry is worth roughly $20 billion.

Both funerals have made me think of my own mortality and how I want to leave this world. I started looking around for other options and found some that are not only cheaper but more environmentally friendly.

1. Sell your body to science

You can donate your body to an anatomical board or medical school.

It’s possible but not incredibly easy to do. There aren’t many organizations willing to take your body. The process can take a lot of paperwork, and your body has to meet the criteria. You can pull it off with enough research.

You’ll need to sign up on a donation list years in advance, and most organizations require you to have a backup plan in case they can’t take your body.

Find out more here.

2. Convert your body into soil

Human composting is a process that basically turns your body into fertile soil after you die. Advocates of the process say it can save the environment from “one metric ton of carbon per person.”

One corpse alone uses 28 gallons of natural gas to cremate. That’s 418 pounds of CO2 – or the same amount as a car driving 470 miles, says the American Chemical Society.

Debt.com has been told a composting burial is only available in six states. But it can cost about $5,500, on average, much cheaper than traditional burial or cremation.

Find out more here.

3. Burial at Sea

There’s been a long tradition of what’s called “burial at sea.”

Common among Navy veterans and well anyone who really loves the ocean enough to rest their remains in it. Like most bizarre funeral ideas on this list, you’re going to need to research your state laws and seek professionals who can perform this service.

Burial at sea is only legal in certain coastal states. You’ll need to pull permits from local governments and will need to organize your body to be transported if you didn’t die in that state.

You’ll have to do some pretty in-depth research on your local area. It takes permits to get into international waters. But if it’s your final wish, start planning.

Find out more here.

4. Reef ball cremation

Use your body to contribute to ocean life. A Florida-based nonprofit called Eternal Reefs offers concrete reef balls.

Since the late 1980s, natural coral reefs have been deteriorating in the ocean. Families can send off their loved ones in a ceremony at sea, knowing their death can enrich ocean life. A deceased needs to be cremated first. And the reef ball is essentially an underwater tomb.

The CEO of Eternal Reefs previously told Sarasota Magazine “We can see marine growth in weeks.”

Find out more here.

5.  Alkaline hydrolysis

Alkaline hydrolysis reduces soft tissue by a chemical process as opposed to a flame process used in traditional cremation.

It’s an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional cremation, which uses a combination of 22 different chemicals – including carbon dioxide, mercury, and dioxide.

Alkaline hydrolysis only uses mainly (95%) water and 5% alkali solution. It typically costs around $2,000 to $4,000. So it’s more expensive than cremation, but for many, the environmental benefits outweigh the price.

To date, 28 states have legalized alkaline hydrolysis.

Find out more here.

6. Pauper’s grave

New York is home to the two largest cemeteries in America: Calvary Cemetery in Queens and Hart Island in the Bronx. More than 1 million burials have been performed at each, and both do “Pauper’s Graves,” more commonly referred to as Public Health Funerals.

Hart Island is the largest public cemetery. Public Health Funerals are government-funded burial and cremation services. The term dates back to the 1580s in Great Britain. It’s a service typically provided in larger states with large populations of low-income people.

Resources in the U.S. aren’t typically available at a statewide level. Most funeral assistance is left to individual counties and local governments to provide. For those below the poverty line, there could help in your state.

Find out more here.

7. Mushroom burial suit

In 2019, late actor Luke Perry made headlines: he suffered a massive stroke that led to his death. Years before, he took interest in eco-friendly funerals and left that as his last wish.

A few days after being put on life support, Perry’s family made the tough decision to “pull the plug.” He was buried in a compostable mushroom suit.

Funeral experts tell Debt.com are only available in California, Oregon, Washington, and New York, and cost $1,500 to $2,500. Whereas, a casket costs $2,000 to $5,000 and requires embalming and harmful chemicals.

It’s an interesting idea for the green and budget-wise types.

Find out more here.

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