To Bury or To Cremate… Is that the Question?

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For some, the choice between cremation and burial is an easy one. For others, the decision is not so clear. Whether it be for religious, spiritual or practical reasons, the choice regarding what happens to our bodies after we die is an interesting and sometimes polarising one.

This week, we were asked whether there were any alternatives to burial or cremation. Our question asker wanted to make his wishes known for when he passed away, and he was curious as to whether health regulations etc. allowed him to choose something totally different and out-of-the-box. He thought a Viking funeral a-la-Game of Thrones seemed perfect…

It is an interesting point. Many people feel strongly about being able to control this part of the process and being made to choose between only two options feels somewhat rigid.

In fact, many places and cultures around the world undertake the funeral ritual in a way that might seem strange, bizarre or even wrong.

For example, take a look at this TED talk from Kelli Swazey:

In this part of Indonesia, the deceased’s body is lavished with love and attention and continues to ‘live’ with the living, being dressed and fed. Finally, in some cases years later, the dead are interred in caves.

So what about here in Australia? This article sums up the position pretty well…

Current laws do limit us in terms of what can happen to a body. There are a few legal alternatives, like donating a body to science, or the very expensive processes of above-ground interment or freezing the body (Cryonics), but for many, these are not feasible options.

The important thing to remember is that all of this doesn’t mean we cannot be creative and imaginative in determining the final resting place for a loved one.

If someone is cremated, there are LOTS of options for what we can do with their ashes. We can turn the ashes into diamonds or jewellery, we can place them in a ‘green burial pod’, from which a tree grows. We can even become part of a coral reef or turned into fireworks!

If someone is buried, we can choose a more modern lawn cemetery or an older monumental cemetery. In limited circumstances, we might even be able to be buried on our family farm. We can personalise the headstone – shape, size and colour. We might be able to erect a memorial bench near the gravesite where we can sit and reflect in memory of our loved one.

Whatever the vision, we would love to be able to help make it happen.