7 Surprising Alternatives to Traditional Funeral Services

funeral services

These unique options are nothing like the traditional funeral services you’ve been to.

If you’re bored by the idea of funeral services, here are seven far more interesting ways to leave a lasting impression after your departure.

1. Have Your Ashes Sent to Space


Want to incorporate space in your funeral arrangements? Why not fulfill your dream of becoming an astronaut by sending your remains into space? Founded in 1997, Celestis specializes in launching human remains into space. Aside from reserving a spot for your ashes on scheduled “memorial spaceflights,” they also allow your loved ones to attend the launch and even track you in orbit. The company was cofounded by entrepreneur Charles M. Chafer, and staff members include aerospace professionals, space launch event management experts, retired NASA astronauts and even a retired director of the NASA Kennedy Space Center who directed more than 50 space shuttle launches. According to their website, “No other company has successfully launched even a single memorial spaceflight service, and no other company has been selected by NASA to honor one of their distinguished scientists with a memorial spaceflight.” Celestis offers a variety of packages, including Earth Rise ($1,295), which launches a portion of your cremated remains into space before returning them to Earth; the Earth Orbit ($4,995) and Luna Orbit ($12,500), both of which launch your remains into the orbit of your choice; and the Voyager Package($12,500), which launches your remains into deep space.

2. Memorialize Yourself in a Bullet


Want your funeral arrangements to involve firearms? If so, why not preserve your remains in a bullet? Founded by two law enforcement officers, Holy Smoke specializes in paying tribute to hunters, gun lovers and nature enthusiasts by embedding their cremains into live ammunition. After you’ve selected the caliber and gauge of the ammunition you prefer, the company will add the cremains to the pistol cartridge, rifle cartridge or shotgun shell. They even offer mantel-worthy wooden carriers with engraved name plates.

3. Turn Your Ashes into Music


Hoping to add a little music to your funeral service? Look no further. The UK-based company Andvinyly will press your ashes in a playable vinyl record containing the music (or audio recording) of your choice. For approximately $3,700, the company will press your cremated ashes into 30 discs, each with 24 total minutes of audio. Once you’ve supplied the audio of your choice, they will press the vinyl and the discs with standard artwork and labels that include your name, date of birth and date of death. For an additional cost, you can order original artwork or have your picture included. Also, if you’d like, they’ll even have the discs distributed to reputable vinyl stores worldwide.

4. Become a Crash Test Cadaver


Want to forego a funeral service and improve the future of automobile safety at the same time? Why not become a crash test cadaver? While crash test dummies yield a great deal of information for researchers, human cadavers provide more data concerning what happens to internal organs during a crash, so you can rest assured, knowing you’ve aided in the advancement of automotive safety. In fact, because cadavers effectively mimic actual drivers, the data gathered from such tests is invaluable. In a 1995 article in the Journal of Trauma, Wayne State researcher Albert King estimated that about 8,500 lives each year are saved as a result of crash research on cadavers. For every cadaver used, he asserted, 61 people survive as a result of seat belts, 147 because of air bags and 68 because of safety windshields. Though it may seem like a fairly recent trend, using cadavers as test subjects was originally implemented in the 1930s, when researchers at Wayne State University threw a body down an elevator shaft to determine the forces it could endure. Since then, cadavers have been used extensively in testing. Though their use has declined in recent years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stills funds numerous yearly cadaver tests at universities across the country. “[Using cadavers] is still very important,” said Priya Prasad, a former top safety researcher at Ford. “Even though we have very good math modeling of dummies, human modeling hasn’t reached that state yet.”

5. Become a Paperweight

Scattering Ashes

Less than impressed by the urns you’ve seen at most funeral services? Why not consider something more unique? For $225, a company called Scattering Ashes will immortalize your ashes forever in a beautiful glass swirled paperweight. According to the company’s website, the glass paperweights are handmade in England by experienced and skilled glassmakers. After receiving your ashes, the company will deliver them to a local glassmaker. Once the glass has cooled, the paperweight is engraved before being sent to the recipient of your choice with a certificate of authenticity. The process takes between four to six weeks after receipt of ashes.

6. Donate Your Body to a Body Farm


Can’t afford a traditional funeral service? Why not save your money and contribute to the advancement of forensic science at the same time? Often referred to as forensic anthropology facilities, body farms are large areas of land where researchers document the rate of decay in relation to climate, dress and scavenger interaction. While not all body farms serve the same purpose, the vast majority of farms allow researchers to study human decomposition in order to aid law enforcement as well as the field of forensic science. Whether aiding in training human-remains-detection dogs or enabling researchers to determine how weather impacts a decomposing body, body farms are increasingly popular for people searching for ways to make their death more meaningful and charitable. According to HuffPost, “Each year an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Americans donate their body to body farms and other medical facilities throughout the country to be used in various medical research projects.” One of the largest body farms, located at the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology Center, currently has 650 skeletons scattered over two and a half acres in Knoxville. In her book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach writes that researchers at UT’s body farm observe bodies in various stages of decomposition by encasing bodies in concrete, disposing of them in a trunk, or wrapping them in tarps of plastic bags. Cheryl Johnston, director of an outdoor facility at Western Carolina University, said, “There’s scientific value to donating your body, but there’s a huge educational value. The training they afford is benefiting people by applying things in the real world.”

7. Become a Firework Display


Want your funeral service to end with a bang? Why not memorialize yourself with a firework display comprised of your cremains? Based in the UK, Heavenly Stars Fireworks specializes in doing just that. Whether you’d prefer a self-fired firework tribute or one of their professional-fired firework displays, Heavenly Stars Fireworks can help. According to their website, the company is comprised of highly qualified technicians, all trained to the British Pyrotechnists Association standards. As you might expect, they offer a variety of packages, ranging from the Fond Goodbye (approximately $1300), which includes a short, basic firework display, to the Ultimate Sendoff (approximately $5200), which includes “split-second timing, aerial shell bursts, Roman candles, multi-shot barrages and mines.” end


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