The dead are treated and remembered in a range of ways from a simple burial in the old family graveyard to more epic modern treatments like being cremated and shot into outer space. How we interact with our deceased and what occurs during mourning are determined by a range of social, religious, political and personal determinants. As I discussed on Tuesday, the choice to cremate or not was highly dependent on a range of factors, and changed over time with broader social processes. The way your body is treated can also be dependent on where you die, such as the necessity to eviscerate, excarnate or exhume the bodies of the 19th century German elite when they died far away from home or during periods of political instability. It also matters who you are, such as the political leader Mao Zedong who strongly argued for cremation but at his death was embalmed and preserved to be placed on display. Throughout history there have been interesting ways that the dead are treated, and today that is still a reality.
Here are some interesting things that you can do with your body (well, depending on funds available and the laws of your region).
1. Turned into something awesome: one of the new trends is that cremated remains are either placed or turned into something different. A new popular choice is turning the remains of a loved one into jewelry. The company LifeGem will take ashes, remove the carbon, and create a gemstone for you. This means having a piece of your loved one or yourself one day as a wearable item. For more practical use, perhaps you want your remains turned into ammunition. A woman from South London had her husband cremated and loaded into shotgun shells. The cremation remains were able to produce a total of 275 12-bore cartridges that were blessed by a minister and used to hunt pheasants, partridges, ducks and a fox. Or perhaps you love music and have a fantastic vinyl collection- you can be turned into a vinyl record. And Vinylyl offers the opportunity to have 30 records made from your cremated remains. You get to pick the music, created by their musicians to fit your personality, and the cover art.
2. Buried in a fantastic container: if you don’t want to be cremated or don’t want your remains disturbed, there are a number of great options for some personalized containers. At Crazy Coffins you can find numerous examples of unique coffins such as the guitar shaped coffin or one made out of wicker. A Dr. Who look-a-like who was a major fan of the TV show was buried in a Tardis coffin complete with flashing blue lights and a Dr. Who themed funeral. Just in case the dead can here, you can also get a coffin with speakers and a spotify connection built into it. CataCombo offers a traditional wood coffin with built in speakers connected to spotify at an individual’s computer. The deceased or their loved ones can create a playlist ahead of time and maintain the playlist even after burial. Want your coffin now? You can buy a bookshelf which converts into a coffin when it is needed from Shelves for Life.
3. Forever preserved: remember that rumor that Walt Disney had himself frozen so that he could be thawed out when medicine improved? It’s not true, but cryonics has come a long way since then and is to a point where the science seems to be catching up to the fiction. You to can join the frozen ranks to preserve yourself for the future if you like, try Alcor. Or maybe you want to donate your body to one of those traveling body exhibits. Body Worlds allows your to donate yourself to the project so that you too can be on display and help teach anatomy to thousands of people. Taxidermy? Not happening with today’s laws… though you can watch this video on how it would be hypothetically possible: Why Don’t We Taxidermy Humans.
A funeral is a final statement and celebration of the individual, so it makes sense for the deceased to be buried in, on or turned into what is most fitting, within the law of course. Luckily in our world, there are many options and we can find great ways to memorialize ourselves whether it be used to make pencil lead or simply buried. Want a hi-tech way to start planning your own funeral and wishes after death? Check out Final Fling and you can record what type of way you want to be remembered!