For the longest time, funerals were sombre affairs, but nowadays, more people and families are teeming with positivity and other forms of life celebrations. Gone are the days where mourners are only allowed to wear black or white, as more people now begin to opt for alternative funeral ideas.
Majority of the common funerals involve a religious form of ceremony which follows cultural traditions. Generally, it is arranged in two parts which typically involves funeral directors: a service at a place of worship and a ceremony (also known as committal) at the crematorium or cemetery. But funeral arrangements are now gradually changing.
A growing number of businesses now offer low-cost, no-frills funeral services options, catering to customers who are looking for more affordable and modern alternatives. Hence, another way of avoiding the funeral sting while still sticking with the core facet of the celebration of life. Reports show that around the world, people now support the call for environmentally friendly green burials, and many people in the UK have been opting for alternative funerals.
What is an Alternative Funeral?
An alternative funeral is anything that does not follow the typical observing time-honoured funeral traditions. It does not necessarily deviate from common funeral rites, but some details are altered—and these little details make the difference. With alternative funerals, bereaved family members can skip traditional burials and funeral rites for a celebration of life. Events can be made more cheerful and intimate, instead of conventional sober celebrations.
Alternative funerals can be as simple as skipping the embalming process or opting for eco burials or burial at sea. The event can be held weeks or even months after the cremation, and it can be celebrated anywhere like a beach party or any other jolly social function.
The popularity of innovation in the funeral industry is increasing, and alternative funerals now support the idea of a more creative and unique send-off.
Deciding whether you’ll opt for a traditional or alternative funeral is a personal decision. There are several alternative funeral options available in the market, and you might not even have heard of some of them. Here is a list of alternative funeral ideas for you to know more about the non-traditional funeral arrangement:
Idea #1: Family-Led Funerals
Direct-it-yourself or family-led funerals is a more intimate option as there is no legal requirement to employ any services of a funeral director. Arranging a funeral yourself entails a more personal approach, although it is more daunting especially as it adds more planning responsibility to the grieving family. You will have to typically book a cremation or burial date, organise funeral transportation, and complete all the necessary legal paperwork.
However, it is also a way for you to manage your grief better. Family-Led Funerals will:
- Let you enjoy the freedom of choosing (or making) an alternative coffin to your deceased loved one
- Decide the flow of the send-off program
- Choose the theme of the vigil or service (in case you decide to hold one)
Opting for a DIY funeral will depend on the specific arrangement of your liking, and it is up to you to decide for cost-saving options or splurge more for your departed family member.
Idea #2: Home Burial
Home burials are common in many cultures and religions, but ground burials in a cemetery are the most popular way to get buried in the UK. However, some wealthy families nowadays opt for home burials. It creates a more intimate experience with death, and some feel closer to their loved ones this way as they could visit the “graveyard” any time they want.
Most states allow burial on private properties especially on rural estates, but it is always better to check the requirements, and secure zoning and other necessary permits required.
Idea #3: Humanist Funeral
Humanist (non-religious) funeral ceremony is a unique way to celebrate the life of someone who died, without mentioning religion or a god. Services are usually led by a celebrant (typically a family member, but not required), who guides guests and well-wishers through the readings or music. After the coffin is taken for view, the celebrant will share closing thoughts, and the music will play as the guests walk outside.
Humanist services typically take place at a crematorium, cemetery, or in theory, anywhere. Outdoor spaces, gardens, and hotel event halls are also some of the popular options.
Idea #4: Green Burial
This is a low-cost choice that is popular with people who advocate preserving natural areas and conserving resources. Green burials speed up the “breakdown” of human remains through natural processes. The funeral process is almost the same as a normal burial, but with green burials, no embalming fluids or toxic chemicals of any kind can be used.
The coffin is usually biodegradable, and it is an environmental-friendly choice. Many green burial grounds are now wildlife refuges, creating safe spaces for animals and plants. One-meter depth below the ground will help decompose the remains, keeping the body safe from animals.
Idea #5: Woodland Burial
Woodland burial is another environmentally friendly alternative to traditional burials or cremations. Just like green burials, a biodegradable casket is used—usually made from wicker or willow, some even use recycled paper. Woodland burial commonly takes place in designated woodland burial sites but with those who have the resources of doing so, opt for forest grounds and meadows.
Headstones are not a common marker for woodland burials, instead, markers are usually trees or flowers, often indistinguishable from burial sites. Some natural burial grounds provide maps so that family members could visit the site of their departed loved ones, but others prefer and consider the whole woodland as a memorial nowadays.
Idea #6: Cremation
Also known as scattering, cremation is on the rise as it caters families looking for an affordable funeral alternative. Some people who choose cremation do so as they take religious considerations and personification of funerals depending on the wishes of the deceased. Many people choose cremation as their final disposition as arranging it is much simpler and it advocates flexibility—it allows families more time to plan a memorial service, or not.
Cremation also brings customisation for families who choose to remember their departed loved one in a way that fits their beliefs and traditions.
Idea #7: Aquamation/Resomation
Aquamation is a procedure where the body is “bathed” in water, where resomation involves alkali and water-based solution under high pressure to decompose the body. Both processes are eco-friendly and it speeds up the deterioration process and produces liquid and bone ash.
The remains can be recycled by pouring it into nature—similar to that of scattering ashes.
Idea #8: Sea Burial
Sea Burial is very common especially among sailors, naval officers and pirates. There are water-soluble urns in the market that cater to this option, but some burials also involve dropping the entire body in a modified casket onto the ocean floor.
Sea burial services also offer mixing of cremated remains with environmentally friendly concrete to create artificial reefs that could potentially support and preserve marine life. Most people, however, prefer for a more intimate service where they can take charters—often with close friends and families—and scatter the ashes out to the sea.
Idea #9: Space Burial
This may be the coolest (but most expensive) funeral alternative. Straightforward as is, it is practised by launching ashes of the deceased into space via a rocketship.
Idea #10: Memorial Diamonds
Memorial diamonds are made by pressurizing hair or ashes of the deceased—same way as real diamonds are made—but quicker. Bereaved family members can select preferred size or cuts, as well as the colour—but it usually depends on the dead person’s unique chemical composition. This can be customised into rings, necklaces, and however, the family wants it to be.
Idea #11: Life Celebration
A celebration of life is typically held after the burial or cremation of the deceased. Some family members opt to conduct it after a few weeks or on the death anniversary. It is less traditional than a funeral, and all the necessary preparations will now depend on the person planning the event – from funeral attire to flower and floral arrangements, up to the theme of the celebrations.
There is no steadfast rule in doing a celebration of life event as by its definition, it should be celebratory and joyful. The organisers can ask people to talk about the deceased, share some humour, poignant situations and memories. They can also set up a memorial fund. Life celebration is a simple commemoration, and it’s all up to the organiser on how to make it as personal as they want.
Funeral celebrations and services are very personal—and it is always up to the bereaved family to decide on how to go about the final disposition of their loved ones unless wished for otherwise. There are various types of thoughtful funeral ideas, as explained above, and it is always important to choose the best option that you can afford and sustain. Traditions and religious factors are also to be considered in commemorating the life of a loved one that requires careful planning.
In every planning, however, it is best to place the departed loved one at the centre of the decision process. Taking an active role in planning and organising is such a challenging task, given that you are in a season of grief that can wear you out. But if you are at loss on how to make the best funeral service as personal as you like, we could help you out.
My Estate Planning offers services from planning to executing the inevitable. We can help you process necessary documents from the funeral until probate, if necessary.
We offer services that meet and fits your needs. If you cannot decide on the funeral plans or services that you wish to have for you or your family members, we are here to help you every step of the way.
Reach out to us and we will do our best to assist and support you. We also make sure that the things for which you worked hard, your home and your money, are preserved so that the people you love can be looked after when you’re gone.
Visit our website for more information about price plans and other services. With My Estate Planning Services, we make funeral plans easier for you to manage.