Considering funeral options can be daunting, especially when it comes to protecting your family’s best interests after you’re gone. The average funeral cost, for a traditional funeral (including viewing, burial, and basic services), ranges from $7,000 – 9,000.
For a funeral with cremation, the average cost drops a bit to around $6,000 – 7,000. Still, that’s a chunk of money, especially when you consider that caskets alone can be $2000 – 5,000 (and up to $10,000), and headstones can be $1500 – $2000 (and as much as $10,000).
What if you want something more symbolic? What if you want something less expensive? What if the “traditional” funeral just doesn’t represent your last wishes? In this article, we’re going to discuss several alternatives to traditional funerals.
Some of these are far more cost-effective than cremation and burial, too, so if you’re looking for a funeral that will leave your family with more when you’re gone, then we’ve got some great ideas for you.
Alternatives to Traditional Funerals
In the next few passages, we will touch on some of the alternatives to funerals that you many not have even known about. Ya don’t know what ya don’t know so read on so we can change that!
In ancient times, an open air pyre was often used to cremate the deceased as part of a symbolic ritual. Today, there are not many places that will allow legal pyres, but there are still a few.
One organization, The Crestone End of Life Project, is committed to helping people make “informed final choices” and operates one of a few open air cremation sites in Colorado.
For less than $500, you can have an open air cremation, but, unless you live in Colorado, transportation could become an issue. If you are interested in a pyre, check your local ordinance, check for local organizations offering such services, and, if all else fails, see about having your body transported to a legal pyre site.
Green burial is a way to give your body back to nature after you die. With green burial, no embalming fluids are used, and a casket made of biodegradable materials is used.
Ramsey Creek Reserve in South Carolina became the first green cemetery in the United States in 1998 and offers these services for as low as $550.
Donating Your Body to Science
Organizations can use cadavers for a number of research projects. Companies such as Science Care will actually cremate your body at no cost and send the ashes back to your loved ones within three weeks.
Families receive a letter that explains how your body was used in research, and on the first year anniversary of your donation, a tree is planted in your memory.
There are many companies offering similar services, as well, so if you’ve ever thought of donating your body to science, this could be an excellent alternative to a traditional funeral.
Spoiler alert: this is not a cheap option! If, however, you are interested in what the future holds, and you would be interested in being revived if technology ever allowed it, then cryogenics might be for you.
One company, Alcor, offers a few services, such as brain-only cryogenics for $80,000 (in the future, your body could be theoretically regrown with DNA). To cryogenically freeze your entire body would cost $200,000, with most of that going into a trust fund for future services.
This funeral alternative combines the cremation urn, ash scattering, and burial at sea into one. A specially designed reef made with eco-friendly cast concrete, which can be customized with handprints of loved ones, and can be designed to accommodate several sets of remains, is placed at the ocean floor. The cost ranges from $3,000 – $7500. See their website for more.
The Living Urn
This “tree pod” consists of a biodegradable urn that grows into a tree in combination with ashes. You can choose from a variety of trees, including those that grow best in your area.
You can choose to have all ashes or just some used in the urn. This is a very cost effective option at just $129 plus the cost of a tree. For example, a weeping willow is $36. Learn more here.
As you can see, there are many, many, many options when it comes to funeral alternatives. If you don’t feel like the traditional funeral is for you, then rest assured there are plenty of options out there.
If you feel that spending the money on a traditional funeral is unnecessary or you just want to leave more behind for your loved ones, that’s understandable, too.
Or, if you plan to invest in the hope for a new future, cryogenics even offer potential. We hope this guide has offered exciting new ideas as you plan for your last wishes!