There are Funeral Alternatives for individual that wish to take a less traditional or religions route to saying there farewells to a lost loved one. Given the rising costs of burial and cremation along with more individuals not interested in a religious ceremony the following alternatives have become popular in recent years.
- Direct Cremation
- Freeze Drying
What Can I do Instead of a Funeral?
There are several options available to those who would like to avoid a traditional funeral:
1. Direct Cremation
A direct cremation is an option where the body of the deceased is not embalmed and is either buried in a simple casket or placed in a cremation container. Cremation services are cheaper than funeral services because it requires less planning, equipment, staff members, and time. About 70 percent of American families opt for direct cremations because it is cheaper, simpler, and faster. The process usually involves the removal of the deceased from the place of death to a crematory, then after an hour or two, the ashes are released to the family. Cremation requires only a few hours while traditional burial can take days depending on the distance of the burial location from where the body was found. Even bodies that are not embalmed but placed in airtight bags to delay decomposition can be kept for at least 24 hours. You can learn more about the cremation process in our article here.
Resomation is a relatively new process that may be the future of cremations. Resomation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis, was developed by researchers who wanted to find a way to dispose of dead farm animals and pets without the usual repercussions on the environment. This unique process involves placing the body in a pressurized chamber full of water and potassium hydroxide or lye. The chamber is then pressurized and heated to about 320 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the body dissolves into a white liquid that can be used as fertilizer for crops. For more information on resomation, read our in depth article here.
Cryonics is the process of storing deceased individuals in extremely cold temperatures with the hope that they can be brought back to life at a future time when medical technology has advanced enough. This procedure involves draining the blood from the body, filling it with an antifreeze solution, and then submerging it in liquid nitrogen. The effect of lowering temperature slows down the rate at which the tissues and cells of the body decay. The cost of cryonics can be quite high, with some companies charging $28,000 for whole-body preservation and $12,000 for just the head.
Mummification is the oldest funeral alternative. Mummies have been around for thousands of years, with ancient Egyptians being the most famous “users” of this technique. Mummification is often used in situations where resources are scarce. It basically involves removing all internal organs from the body and placing them in separate containers with alcohol or another preservative solution. The body is then dried out by embalming it with salts and covering it with natron for several weeks to months, depending on the climate conditions. Once all the moisture has been removed, wrapped sticks are inserted into the body cavities to give them their shape. The final step involves dressing the mummy in a shroud and placing it inside a sarcophagus or coffin.
Plastination is an alternative to mummification that preserves the body using a silicone polymer instead of drying out the tissues through desiccants. It involves removing all bodily fluids and fat from the body, leaving only the skin and some other tissues intact. The body is then placed inside a plastic mold and injected with silicone, which hardens as it cools. The body is then placed inside an acrylic display case to show off the preserved corpse. Plastination was developed by Gunther von Hagens and first introduced at the Heidelberg University in 1977.
6. Freeze- Drying
Freeze-drying is a process that enables organic matter to be preserved by removing every single ounce of water from the body. It involves first freezing the body and then placing it inside a vacuum chamber where the surrounding pressure is lowered significantly. This causes all moisture in the tissues to go directly from solid ice into vapor without passing through an intermediate liquid phase. The body is then kept at a constant temperature of -22 Fahrenheit for several weeks until it has been transformed into a dry powder. The final step involves placing the powder inside a vacuum-sealed container to prevent oxidation from occurring.
Why Would a Family Not Have a Funeral?
There are several reasons why a family might not have a funeral for their loved one.
1. Religious Beliefs
Many religions do not support the idea of having a funeral because they believe that this isn’t what God intended. They feel that there is no point in spending time and money on a service when the body will rot away anyway, and get recycled into other life forms.
2. Lack of Resources
In many parts of the world, funerals are very expensive. It can cost thousands of dollars to have a service and burial, and some families simply cannot afford it. In these situations, having a funeral would also involve putting financial strain on other family members who may be already struggling with their own bills. Additionally, not having a funeral may be preferable in cases where the family members are too distant or scattered to make it back for the funeral.
3. Personal Choice
Some people feel that there is really no point in having a funeral service since they will have to find another way of dealing with their dead bodies anyway. They would rather spend the money on something meaningful, or simply not put themselves through the hassle of arranging all the logistics involved in a funeral.
4. Space Constraints
In some parts of the world, there is a shortage of cemetery plots. In these situations, families are often forced to bury their dead in a shared grave, which makes having a traditional funeral difficult. This is why many people in these situations opt for other alternatives.
The traditional funeral is becoming less popular over time, causing many people to wonder what alternatives they might have. The best way for a family to find out which alternatives are available in their area is simply by asking around at local funeral homes and cemeteries. They will likely come across several different options that they hadn’t considered before, which could make the decision fairly easy.