Thinking Ahead

Tori Vazquez

Death is inevitable and no one is ever promised tomorrow. One moment you could be chowing down on a Big Mac and the next you’re choking to death. We will all eventually die but how many of us know what we want to happen to us after death? It’s never too soon to plan out your funeralㄧas morbid as it is. People of every age die each day and if one day it happens to you then you’ll want to be ready.


if one day it happens to you then you’ll want to be ready.”


For those who like the idea of being 6 feet under, the average cost of a funeral in North America in 2016 is between $7,000 and $10,000. This includes the services at the funeral home, burial in a cemetery, and the installation of a headstone. On average the fees separately cost $1,500 for funeral director’s services, $2,300 for a casket , $500 for embalming, $500 for using the funeral home for the actual funeral service, $1,000 for grave site, $600 to dig the grave, $1,000 for a grave liner or outer burial container, and finally $1,500 for a headstone. Though prices  vary according to sellers and location. Despite the large sum it costs to get buried you can use your life insurance to cover most of it and take the burden off of your family.


Now why spend $7,000 to be 6 feet under when you could spend the rest of eternity floating amongst the stars for a third of the price?”


Cremation is cheaper as opposed to burial. With no casket, headstone, or burial sight to worry about cremation with services handled through a funeral home can be between $2,000 and $4,000. If you are to go directly through the services of a crematory, you can expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000. Cremation can cost as little as one sixth of what burial costs and for those who are more on the sentimental side it’s portable enough to take with you anywhere. Not to mention people are starting to take cremation to the next level and put the ashes into necklaces so that they have a piece with them 24/7.


On the more modern hand, with all the new technology being developed there’s now more interesting alternatives to traditional cremation or burial. Resomation, Natural Burial, Cryonics, Space Burial, Mummification, Plastination, bios urn, and Freeze-drying are all new scientific advances being tested out as alternatives to natural funerals.

Resonation is when people have their tissues dissolved using heated water and potassium hydroxide to liquefy the body, leaving only bones behind to be pulverized. Resonation is much like cremation in the fact that only dust is left over and given to the family. Sadly, Anderson-McQueen funeral home in St. Petersburg, Fla. is the only place that currently performs this alternative.


Natural burials are the same as getting buried regularly but instead done  without embalming and without the concrete vaults that line graves in most modern cemeteries. Along with that the bodies are wrapped in a shroud or placed in a biodegradable casket to decompose naturally. The natural burial movement started in 1998, with the opening of the all-natural cemetery Ramsey Creek preserve in Westminster, S.C.Now there are at least 50 natural cemeteries in the country according to Mark Harris, the founder of natural burials.


For those who find it hard to part from their wonderful lifeㄧand have a rather large pocket bookㄧ you have the option of cryonics. Cryonics is the process of freezing a person’s body in the hopes of later medical science to revive them with memory and personality intact. A whole-body preservation at Alcor, a Scottsdale, Arizona, USA-based non profit organization that researches, advocates for, and performs cryonics, price their services at $200,000.00. Cryonics Institute, an American member-owned-and-operated not-for-profit corporation, which provides cryonics,  charges $28,000.00 for a whole-body preservation, but this fee does not include stand-by and transportation costs. Now, this is a pricier alternative and one that isn’t guaranteed to work out just yet, but you have to admit it’s one of the coolest.

If cryonics is a bit out of your price range, but you’d still like the sci-fi goodbye, you can always get some of your ashes shot into space. Elysium Space is offering to send people’s ashes to space for a meer $1,990. Now why spend $7,000 to be 6 feet under when you could spend the rest of eternity floating amongst the stars for a third of the price? Granted not all of you can be sent into the atmosphere because of the high cost of spaceflight, only 1 to 7 grams (0.04 to 0.25 ounces) of remains are launched. Which is still a nice steal for the price offered.

For those who find it hard to part from their wonderful lifeㄧand have a rather large pocket bookㄧ you have the option of cryonics.”

Mummification. It seems like that words not just for the ancient egyptians anymore.  A religious organization called Summum, founded in 1975, offers mummification services to not just people but also people’s best friend: your pets. Before his death in 2008, Summum founder Corky Ra told CBS News that at least 1,400 people had signed up for eventual mummification. Meaning more and more people are liking the idea of being wrapped and preserved for the rest of existence. The current costs for Mummification services are $67,000 within the United Statesㄧ pricey I know. But it could be worth the price to live like they did back in ancient timesㄧor at least die like they did.

Much like mummification, plastination involves preserving the body in a semi-recognizable form. Plastination is used in medical schools and anatomy labs to preserve organ specimens for education purposes. But the inventor Von Hagens has taken the process one step further, creating exhibits of plastinated bodies posed as if frozen in the midst of their everyday activities, kinda like a creepy modern people museum. According to the Institute for Plastination, thousands have signed up to donate their bodies for education and display. Not to mention that depending on who you go to, the cost for this could be a mere $0.00. Sounds like a good deal to me.


The newest comer on the eco-burial stage is a process called Promession: AKA, freeze-drying.  This process can cost around $6,000 which is the price of a cheap normal burial, except this comes with a twist. Invented by Swedish marine biologist Susanne Wiigh-Masak, the process involves immersing the corpse in liquid nitrogen that makes the body very brittle. Vibrations then begin to shake the body apart and the water is evaporated away in a special vacuum chamber. Next, a separator filters out any mercury fillings or surgical implants, and the powdered remains are laid to rest in a shallow grave. So it’s like a combination of cremation with the powdered remains and burial with the shallow grave.

…you can pick exactly what tree you want to become…”


Last but definitely not least is the bios urn. According to the bios urn website,” the Bios Urn is fully biodegradable and designed to convert you into a tree after life. Mainly composed of two parts, the urn contains a seed which will grow in the name of your loved one. Bios Urn turns death into a transformation and a return to life through nature.” at the price of $149.00 you can pick exactly what tree you want to become and be buried wherever you please. This is even available for pets, which for you animal lovers is a godsend.

These are just some of the new alternatives out there and who knows maybe in the next couple years there will be even cooler ones to choose from. But despite which one you choose it’s always good to be prepared and know all your options because we’re not promised tomorrow.