As our attitudes towards death change, so too do our funeral customs. Cremation is gaining popularity in many countries. This is sometimes out of necessity— due to dwindling land available for burial or the rising cost of funerals—or because of a general shift away from traditional religious observance.
Scattering a person’s ashes is a common way of honoring those who choose cremation, but this option may not hold meaning for everyone. Families and those planning their own funeral are seeking out more unique ways to use or display cremated remains.
Here are four options currently available, personalized to suit everyone from environmentalists to music lovers.
A living memorial
Planting a tree, flower bush or other plant is a common way for families to memorialize the death of a loved one. There are now options to help incorporate a person’s remains into the planting ceremony.
You could go DIY with your planting. However, some companies can help with the process. Special mixes of cremated remains and potting soil are placed in 100% biodegradable pods designed specifically for use in memorials. A seed or sprout of your choice is added and is nourished by the pod’s contents as it grows. While many families may choose to plant something outdoors, there are also indoor options available. These could be an excellent option for those who would like to keep their loved one’s memorial inside or take it with them should they decide to move.
Swim with the fishes
For those who love the sea, there’s also a way to honor their passing while helping the environment. Structures cast from a mixture of concrete and cremation ashes can now be placed at the bottom of the ocean, where they enable the growth of new coral reefs and encourage sea life biodiversity.
Though most of the companies creating these artificial reefs operate in the United States, anyone from around the world can have their remains incorporated into one. Some companies allow family members to help with the casting and be there when it is placed. Loved ones may also receive GPS coordinates of the reef’s location so they can visit the spot whenever they choose.
An eternal sparkle
One of the most luxe ways you could memorialize the deceased is to turn them into a diamond. And these gems aren’t fakes—they are certified and graded diamonds grown from cremation ashes.
Cremation diamonds, like their natural counterparts, are customizable. Loved ones can select the carat size, cut and color that best reflects the deceased’s personality and their own budget (or the diamond can be left in a raw, uncut state). The entire process usually takes between three to nine months, depending on the options chosen. The resulting diamond can be displayed in someone’s home or used to create a truly one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.
Record your final farewell
Vinyl records have been making a comeback in recent years. As this music format grows in popularity, the market has responded with a funeral twist: pressing a loved one’s ashes into a custom vinyl record.
One UK-based company has jumped on this trend, creating bespoke records from cremation ashes. These special pressings can be done using all or a portion of someone’s ashes, allowing individual family members to create their own personal memento. Each record can also be pressed with the audio of your choice. This could include recordings of someone’s voice, their favorite song or even silence.
A farewell to remember
Creating a unique and memorable service for departed loved ones has never been easier. If you like the idea of your ashes being incorporated into a one-of-a-kind memorial, talk to your family about this wish. Payment options, such as funeral cover, could help remove any financial concerns they may have. That way, when the time comes, they can follow your final wishes with less worry.