Planning the Proper Disposition

Nathan Miller – August 27, 2018


Let’s say that you pre-planned everything for your service with the funeral home, but now you need to decide on what to do with your body afterwards. In other words, you need to decide on body disposition. Before you can make a decision on your disposition, you need to educate yourself to fully understand the options out there for disposition. Lucky for you, I am here to help.

The first and most traditional choice is burial. This simply refers to the ground placement of a body, generally in a casket. Some cemeteries require the casket to be placed in a vault as well. Monuments or markers are typically placed at the graves as a memorial to the deceased. This type of burial requires a cemetery plot and additional fees for opening and closing of the grave and any perpetual care, if applicable. There is also above ground burial, or more commonly referred to as, entombment. Entombment is placing the body in a casket in a mausoleum crypt rather than in the ground. This disposition requires all the same items as a ground burial, except for a vault.

Another form of burial available today is called Green Burial. Green Burial is a way for disposition with minimal environmental impact. The body is neither cremated nor embalmed. It is simply placed in a biodegradable coffin or shroud and interred without a vault. The goal is complete decomposition of the body so that it returns to the soil naturally.

Cremation is another form of disposition. What exactly is cremation, you ask? Cremation is the process of reducing the body to bone fragments through the application of intense heat. The remains are then processed into a finer substance and placed in a container. It is greatly gaining in popularity due to cost and environmental concerns, such as the risk of embalming fluids leakage into the ground, land scarcity, and unsustainable material uses.  Many people think that when you have a cremation, you cannot have a service, but I am telling you now that you can have a full funeral ceremony with a visitation and a cremation. There are caskets available for cremation purposes. They can be just as nice and viewable as any wood burial casket. Just like burial, cremation can occur after a funeral where the casket is present. Likewise, cremation can occur before a memorial service where the urn is present. And, as with burials, a cremation funeral service may be preceded by an open casket visitation.

After the cremation has taken place, what will happen to the cremated remains? There are several options for this, too. Here is a list of several options available for cremated remains:

  1. Bury/entomb them. Burying  or entombing cremated remains is a good option for those who want to cremate, but also want to have a special place to visit their loved ones. In fact, this is the only option sanctioned by the Catholic Church.
  2. Scatter them. Another popular option is to scatter the cremated remains. You can scatter in your loved one’s favorite place; the ocean, the forest, their home, etc. However, if you choose this option, some places require a permit for scattering.
  3. Keep them. The next most popular option is to simply keep the cremated remains in an urn at home. There are thousands of urn options out there to fit your specific needs. The stereotypical option is a simple urn sitting on the mantle. However, you can now choose to separate the cremated remains into other smaller keepsake urns so that other loved ones can keep some, too. Also, you can choose to put a very small amount in jewelry pieces to be worn. The options for keeping the cremated remains are plentiful and is constantly increasing.
  4. Planting them. If none of the above options appeal to you, consider planting a tree with the cremated remains. There are urns that mix your loved one’s cremated remains with other nutrients that can be used to grow a plant or tree in your yard. These urns are called “living urns”.
  5. Replenish the reef with them. Let’s say that your loved one loved the ocean and you wanted to scatter their cremated remains in the water. There is actually another option. You can turn cremated remains into a concrete reef that will provide protection and habitat for ocean critters. The company that specializes in this is called Eternal Reef.
  6. Go out with a bang. If your loved one is a hunter, there is a company called Holy Smoke that will create loaded ammunition out of cremated remains. You can either keep the ammo or use it on the next hunting trip. Another banging option is going through a company called Angels Flight that will turn the cremated remains into fireworks.
  7. Blast them to the moon. There is a company called Celestis that offers families with the option to send their loved one’s cremated remains to space. There are one-way and round-trip tickets.
  8. Make them bling. A fairly new and pricey option out there now is to turn your loved one’s cremated remains into a certified diamond. There are several colors, cuts, and carat sizes.
  9. Paint them. There are companies out there that will mix the cremated remains with various paint colors. You can use these to paint anything you choose, but most people who go this route choose to paint a portrait of their loved one.
  10. Tattoo them. Probably one of the most controversial options is to have a tattoo artist mix your loved one’s cremated remains with some of their ink to create a memorial tattoo that you keep on your body for life. There currently is no evidence of any health risks, but always do your research before choosing such an extreme measure.

This list is just a small portion of what options are out there for cremated remains.

Both cremation and burial are defined as methods of caring for the body. It really is just one part of a funeral. You can tell after reading this blog that choosing the right option could be overwhelming. The best thing you could do for your family is to tell them what you want. And, do not be afraid to ask. Otherwise, how would you know that you are doing what they want?

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