Grave Decisions

Know your burial options

Have you thought about what you want to happen to your body after your inevitable death? 

Some people have no strong opinions, stating plainly: “Who cares?! I’m dead.” Fair enough! For those of us who are not so practiced with non attachment perhaps when you rack your brain you just might find that you do indeed care. Some will find that they care if loved ones have a physical location to “visit” for comfort. Others might decide they want their burial to honor the earth and the environment with the same thoughtfulness by which they lived. So let’s take a deeper look! 

The following is an overview on the general options offered when it comes to disposing of bodies.

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Traditional Burial hasn’t changed much over the years. It involves having your body preserved with embalming fluids and placed in a casket and being buried in the ground (with or without a vault depending on your state or the cemetery).

Cremation is the process of reducing human remains to its basic elements in the form of bone fragments through flame, heat and vaporization. Scattering ashes with family and friends can be a beautiful and intimate ceremony after a loved one has passed. 

woman scattering ashes

Green Burial: The Green Council defines Green Burial as a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat. Green burial necessitates the use of non-toxic and biodegradable materials such for items such as caskets, shrouds and urns. 

Anatomical Gift / Donate body to science: your cadaver can aid in advancing scientific research or play a critical role in the education of medical professionals. Once the body is donated you may or may not be able to know what happens to it. The body is cremated after use at no cost to you. Find a program in your area to learn the specific procedures and restrictions. 

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Traditional Burials and Cremations are neck in neck for the most popular ways to handle bodies once someone has passed but couldn’t be more different. Cremation is much cheaper as it doesn’t usually involve embalming services, casket, vaults, cemetery and even transportation fees.  However many people want the ability to go to cemeteries and lay flowers on anniversaries or just a physical place to visit their loved one. 

Cremation is not necessarily great for the environment as it has considerable Carbon emissions. Traditional burial however uses 7 times more energy and leaves six times more of a carbon footprint in addition to the land it uses.

Green burial options are becoming more and more available

Green Burial is on the rise and can be a more natural process that keeps you connected to the earth and reminds you of the cyclical nature of life. If you’re lucky, you may have a green cemetery in your state where you can be buried in the ground without the long lasting purposefully non-biodegradable materials like steel and metals used to make caskets and vaults.

In the meantime people are discovering creative new ways to dispose of bodies with less toxins and impact to the environment. Other green friendly options are Biodegradable Urns, and Biodegradable Urns that come with a tree to plant. 


Now that you know the options available to you, make sure you write your choices and any notes you might have in your Rest In Power Plan.

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