Traditionally, there have been very few options for what you can have done to your body after you die. The vast majority of people choose between either being buried in a coffin or being cremated. For some people though, both of these can be seen to be rather mundane and of little relevance to the life of the deceased, even if cremation does allow the ashes to be scattered in a special location. Rather than do what everyone else does when they die, some people would rather have a send-off that is far more personal and unique, celebrating the things in life that they loved.
Luckily, there are a number of companies and businesses around the world that offer services that are more unique than burial or cremation. These sometimes bizarre options are perfect for those who want to do something different from the norm when they pass. Many people will already know about being able to have your ashes shot into space or donating your body to medical science, but there are many other unique things you can do with your body when you die. They not only provide family members and loved ones with a more distinctive way to memorialize you and your life, but can, in some cases, even help the world become a better place.
12 Become A Tree
One of the most unique things you can do when you die is to become a tree. A company known as Bios Urn has taken the idea of being as eco-friendly as possible, allowing those who really care about the earth to be as green as possible when they pass away. The work of product designer Gerard Moline, the Bios Urn is a fully biodegradable urn that ashes can be placed into. It can support any type of seed and will support the plant until it grows sufficiently, using your ashes and the surrounding soil as part of the nutrients it takes in.
The urns themselves are made up of a collection of materials including coconut shell and compacted peat, meaning that they will not leave anything harmful behind when the seed inside eventually grows out. The Bios Urn also has an added benefit in that it gives your family and friends something to remember you by in the form of the tree.
11 Become A Vinyl Record
And Vinyly is a UK company that states that they will incorporate your ashes into an old-school style vinyl record, with a choice of music or sound recording of your own choosing for around $4,000. The entire service offers the chance to have your ashes pressed into 30 individual records, each with a running total of around 24 minutes, as well as the chance to have a desired portrait painted specially for the album cover to be printed onto the record sleeve. They will even distribute the vinyl to a number of specialist stores if you want people to be able to buy your morbid musical collection.
10 Help Test Car Safety
The bodies of dead humans have long been used by the automotive industry as test crash dummies. While specially made alternatives have been developed that can simulate many of the responses a person would go through in a crash, especially in recent times, some still prefer to supplement research with real-life bodies. This is because they offer the most accurate representation of what type of forces can cause injury, as they are identical to a living body. Additionally, they can often be far cheaper to use than the expensive crash test dummies as volunteers who bequeath them to be used in this way provide the cadavers.
Another way that corpses are used in this type of research is to provide information and data that can go towards helping to create even more refined dummies in the future. Donating your body upon your death to such a cause means that you will be helping to make cars all that more safer and may even contribute to saving thousands of lives every year.
9 Get Turned Into Ammunition
There are a number of specialist services that allow family members or friends to turn their loved ones' ashes into ammunition that can actually be fired. The fully functioning ammunition comes in a variety of different forms, including bullets that work with handguns to shotgun shells and cartridges. The ashes are spread evenly into around 250 bullets or shells, with a small amount of the substance mixed in with the gunpowder that propels the ammunition out of the weapon when ignited.
One particular company known as Holy Smoke, offers a variety of different services that range in prices starting from $1,200 and the ability to load the ashes into a variety of different caliber bullets, including high-powered ammunition for rifles.
8 Create A Firework
Heavenly Stars Fireworks is a company that will incorporate the ashes of any person who has died with specially designed fireworks that they claim will “send your loved one or friend off in style”. The service offered by the company includes the option to have a professional display organized for you, or to have self-fire fireworks manufactured so that they can be fired in a specific place or at a particular time. This allows friends and family to gather and remember their loved one in a celebration of their life that culminates in the firework display.
A notable example of someone’s ashes being used to make a firework came in 2005. Journalist and writer Hunter S Thompson loved explosions and so when he died, his ashes were mixed with the materials used to make the explosive and shot from a canon over his home.
7 Get Plastinated
First developed in 1977 by anatomist professor Gunther von Hagens, Plastination is a technique that allows living tissue, body parts and even entire bodies to be completely preserved in their original form. The professor accepts bodies from those who consent before they die, meaning anyone can sign up to have their body preserved and put on display in the Bodyworlds exhibition.
Plastination is a complicated process that involves several main steps. Firstly, preservatives are injected into the body to stop soft tissues from decomposing then the specimen is placed in acetone to draw out water. The body must then be put into a bath containing liquid polymer, such as silicone rubber or polyester and boiled so that the plastic replaces the vaporized acetone in every cell before it is finally hardened using one of a number of methods. This process usually takes around 3 months for humans, but bigger samples can take longer.
6 Provide Electricity For Fellow Citizens
Some crematoriums now make use of the intense heat used to cremate dead bodies by using the energy to produce electricity that is fed back into the national grid. Local officials in the small town of Hamstad first proposed the idea in Sweden, in 2008. The plans have since spread to other parts of the country and to Denmark, with several crematoriums now recycling the heat to help power homes and reduce their own costs. Not only does the scheme help the environment by not wasting energy, but the fact that the crematoriums no longer have to buy excess water and other materials to cool the toxic smoke, means there is less trash too.
Sweden has previous experience in this sort of area. They have been using the bodies of dead rabbits as a source of energy for several years. The animals are a huge pest in the country and rather than simply burn the dead carcasses, the government chose not to waste them and instead, sends them to a special company that specializes in creating oils to power machines from dead animals.
5 Save The Coral Reef
Another way that you can give back to the environment after you have died is to have your ashes incorporated into special made underwater structures that are made to help coral reefs to grow. The company had already been using the so-called Reef Balls since 1992. They are specially designed structures that are made out of natural materials that artificially recreate elements of a reef to help rehabilitate dying reefs and to provide a suitable habitat for the fish and other marine life that live in the area. They can withstand huge forces from storms and the tides, and have become a vital way to help stop the death of coral reefs around the world.
The idea for using the Reef Balls as a unique way to memorialize a loved one came when one of the founders relatives mentioned that he would like to have his final resting place in the sea, as he would be constantly surrounded by life. After carrying out that final wish by mixing his ashes in with the other materials used to make the Reef Balls, the company saw the potential to offer this service to others and it grew from there.
4 Become A Keepsake
For some, the idea of simply having their ashes scattered when they die is too impersonal. It doesn't give them a chance to be memorialized effectively or be useful. Scattering Ashes, a site that deals most with advice for those who have had their loved ones cremated, also offers several services to customers so that the ashes of a relative or friend can be incorporated into the design of a keepsake. This includes jewelry, where ashes can be placed in a hollow piece as a resting place or mixed in with the materials used to make the piece. Other items include birdbaths, sundials and other outdoor monuments.
They are not the only company to offer such services, though. A variety of different websites and businesses have been set up in recent times that allow for human ashes to be used in the creation of keepsakes and mementos.
3 Get Cryogenically Frozen
Cryogenics is the science that studies how materials act when they are exposed to extreme cold temperatures, whereas cryonics is the process that is regularly seen in movies and science fiction stories, hereby humans are frozen so that they can be re-animated at a later date. Several companies offer services that will keep bodies in cold storage after death but the most well known is probably the Cryonics Institute.
They allow anyone to sign up for a fee in excess of $28,000 and will immediately attempt to put you into a cryonic state when your heart stops beating. This will mean that you are legally dead but that your brain still has some function. The body is then vitrified rather than frozen, with the water being removed from cells and replaced with chemicals that help to slow molecules down, so that people are put into a state of suspended animation, with the hope being that they can be resuscitated when medical advances have been made.
2 Be Eaten By Mushrooms
Many of the most common processes used to deal with the bodies of dead humans can be very harmful to the environment. Burying the dead in coffins can poison soil and damage life in the area, as they can be built with hazardous materials, while cremation releases pollutants and uses a large deal of energy. To combat this, an MIT research fellow known as Jae Rhim Lee set about creating a way to deal with corpses without raising any environmental concerns.
The answer is what she calls the Infinity Burial Project, but is more commonly known as the mushroom death suit. Built out of two layers of organic cotton and netting along with specialized liquid slurry, the suit has mushroom spores inter-weaved throughout it. The suit makes the perfect habitat to grow the fungi, which then go on to not only decompose the body quickly and efficiently, but also remove pollutants and toxins.
1 Help Solve Crimes
Crime scene forensics isn't as glamorous as it is sometimes portrayed on television and in movies. However, it can be a hugely valuable science that can aid police and investigators in helping to solve crimes. One of the main areas of research in forensics deals with the decomposition of bodies, with researchers examining its effects. This allows them to tell how long a body has been dead, where it has been and what types of injuries the person sustained before death.
The primary way that this type of research is carried out through Forensic Anthropology Centers, otherwise known as body farms, such as the one at the University of Tennessee. At such places, researchers use bodies that have mainly been donated by normal people and work to look at how quickly they decompose in different conditions, passing that information on in order to directly help put together criminal cases.