Talking about what to do with your body after you die may bring a dinner party to an awkward end. And yet, the intriguing options available make for lively conversation.
From providing micronutrients to nurture your memorial tree; to turning your ashes into diamonds, the days of simply choosing cremation or burial and then interment in a cemetery have become far more conversation worthy.
On a more serious note, for many people what happens to their body after their death is a poignant decision. It’s deeply personal. Considerations may stem from spiritual, scientific, ethnic, cultural or individual beliefs or priorities.
Across Australia today your posthumous body choices are only really limited by your budget, your imagination and State and local government regulations around disposal of ashes or corpse disposal. Make sure you explore your options early; ensure your loved ones are clear on your wishes and that your budget will cover your choice.
Here are some of the more intriguing, individualistic options available to you.
Cremation: what to do with your ashes after you die
As our global population grows; land becomes scarce and people’s beliefs about what happens after death is informed by more than a handful of dominant religions and science, more and more people are opting for cremation.
A popular wish is to have your ashes scattered over a special place. To minimise the risk of legal action for doing the thing and perhaps breaching a pollution regulation, ensure to get permission from the owners of the private land or relevant Trust of public land or beaches.
It is legal in Australia to send your ashes in the post. That opens a number of interesting options. Before your body has been condensed into a box of ashes, here are some options to consider adding to your posthumous wishes.
You can become a ceramic glaze or framed painting after you die
Rather than sitting on the mantelpiece in a ceramic pot, why not be the glaze on a beautiful piece of ceramic instead – or on your loved one’s morning coffee mug? Your loved one just needs to mail off a cup of your ashes in an ‘Ashes Collection Kit’ and choose a ceramic design of choice. Chronicle Cremation Designs states they then use the ashes to mix into a glaze that is applied to the ceramic which is then fire in a kiln, and sent back to you. We haven’t been able to track down an Australian equivalent.
Find out more: Chronicle Cremation Designs
You can become heirloom jewellery after you die
By unlocking the carbon that will be found in your ashes, or even in a strand of your hair, you can be transformed into a synthetic diamond for your loved ones to cherish, and as a family heirloom.
Here are some Australian based memorial diamond technologists to consider:
Lonite AG (Melbourne)
For a more economical option, you could also be encased in a beautiful glass product. Glass artists are offering products including glass beads for charm bracelets, paper weights, comfort stones, glass domes or jewellery. A search on Etsy.com brings up many interesting options.
Here are some Australian based glass artists to consider:
You can be the micronutrients that help a seed bloom into a tree after you die
By having your ashes placed into a biodegradable urn prepared for planting so that a seed can flourish, your ashes can help a seed bloom into your memorial tree.
Here are some memorial tree product and service providers accessible to the Australian market, to consider:
You can become a part of the ocean or a favourite waterway after you die
Having your ashes scattered at sea is a popular choice. Many boat and cruise operators are now offering memorial cruises to enable your loved ones to see you off in a tranquil way. Most boat or cruise operators will offer this service on request.
Here are some boat and cruise operators to consider:
All Points Boating (New South Wales)
Obsession Cruises (New South Wales)
Sunshine Coast Afloat (Queensland)
Wildlife Coast Cruises (Victoria)
St Kilda Charters (Victoria)
Port Princess Dolphin Cruises (South Australia)
Mandurah Cruises (Western Australia)
You can become an ocean reef and a haven for sea life after you die
Enjoy a burial at sea combined with a cremation urn designed of environmentally safe cast concrete that are intentionally pock marked to encourage sea life to come and build their homes around you. Your ocean vessel will take you to the bottom of the sea and over the coming years, you’ll turn into a living reef. Not only will you help preserve reefs you’ll be at one with the sea. Reef Ball Australia is offering this intriguing afterlife.
Burial: how your loved ones can commemorate you after you die
If burial is your preference your options are a little more limited due to regulations around disposal of bodies but here are some options to think about.
You can be as green as you’d like to be after you die
While a beautifully detailed, highly polished timber coffin seems like a respectful choice for mourners to demonstrate how much you were valued, a shiny casket is not on-trend for the environmentally conscious.
Now you, or your loved ones, can choose from earth friendly options such as cardboard caskets or natural fibre shrouds and use a plant, tree or other natural marker instead of an old-school marble headstone. Other environmentally friendly options include a casket made of banana leaves, bamboo or recycled wood fibres. The beauty of such simple materials is that you, or your loved ones, can also arrange to personalise your casket. You do need to check with your local council and cemetery Trust as to what they will approve, for example some cemeteries will have allocated spaces for shroud burials.
Here are some environmentally friendly casket options to consider:
You can share your life story with passers by after you die
If you’re a bit of an extrovert and love sharing your story with whoever wants to listen, or if you’re a historian at heart who loves the idea of future generations being able to learn more about you, you can ‘geo tag’ your headstone with a QR code on a small metal plaque embossed in your headstone. A geo tag lets you define the exact location of your final resting place. A QR code is a code scannable with a mobile device that then links back to an online memorial page, or perhaps straight to your Facebook or Instagram page (you’ll have to change your privacy settings to ‘Public’ before you go), where you can store as much or as little about yourself as you like. This posthumous tribute is definitely better set up by yourself well before your final hoorah, so you can tell your own story.
Here are some Australian based QR code suppliers to explore further:
You can donate your body to science after you die
If advancing medical technology is something you’d like to contribute to, you can register to donate your body to the medical school of your geographically closest university. You’ll need to contact the university directly to find out how to go about registering and what the process is.