Departing Dearly (or not)

We humans have developed so many different modes of disposing of our dearly beloved.  I’ve started a list of modern options here ranging from the no-cost/low-cost to the ridiculously dear.

Burial, Preferably with a Cool Headstone

I told you I was sick

This is one of my favorites.

Findagrave an extensive list of unusual headstones as does this Flickr page

There are thousands of sites with photos of interesting headstones and mausoleums.  Simply Google “headstones unusual” and you could spend the day browsing!

Cryonic Preservation


According to Alcor Life Extension Foundation, “Cryonics is the science of using ultra-cold temperature to preserve human life with the intent of restoring good health when technology becomes available to do so.”.  Alcor claims to be the leader in cryonic preservation – read all about them at their website

For sure, check out the FAQ’s at this site for the excellent questions – my favorite being “What happens to your soul while your body is frozen indefinitely?”

Sorry to disillusion some readers, but Walt Disney IS  NOT frozen.  Then again, Ted Williams is.  Here is a link to Ted’s holographic “will”, scribbled on a napkin, wherein he expressed his wish to be placed into “bio-stasis”.

Turn Yourself Into a Diamond


LifeGem will turn human or pet remains into “created” diamonds  You can choose from colorless, blue, red or green “diamonds” ranging in price from approximately $3500 – $20,000, depending on the size and color of the gem you desire.   LifeGem claims to be creating some diamonds from Michael Jackson’s hair (the hair that was burnt in the Pepsi ad)

Burial at Sea


The Neptune Society arranges to cremate decedents and bury their ashes in its “Memorial Reef” a few miles off the coast of Miami.  Alternatively, the Society will arrange to scatter the ashes off-shore.

Speaking of cremains, if one is lucky enough to have a son like Keith Richards, there is another option for disposing of ashes.


Launch Yourself into Space


Celestis  offers some insanely cool options for cremains – you can have some of your ashes sent  into earth orbit or onto the lunar surface or into deep space!  The cheapest option is to have a tiny bit of your ashes launched into space and then returned to earth, so your family can retain the part of you that experienced zero-G (approximately $700).

Big Spenders might opt for the Deep Space trip at $12,500. This is the company that “beamed-up” Scotty a few years back.

Check them out at

Tibetan Sky Burials


In this ancient ritual that is still practiced, Tibetan monks cut decedents into small pieces that are then devoured by vultures.

I used to ask my students to write about this ceremony and to discuss whether they would want a sky burial if it were legal in New York.  Very few found it appealing.  Read the article for reasons why sky burials make sense in Tibet.

Dissolve ‘n Flush


A new process called alkaline hydrolysis involves dissolving bodies in lye and then flushing the “brown, syrupy remains” down the drain.  Ewww.

Read about this at

I don’t know why this one wigs me out more than any of the others, but it does.

Potters Field


In NYC, our Potters Field is on Hart Island, in Long Island Sound .  The island has its own website

Here is a quote about how it all works:

“The Department of Correction maintains and operates the City Cemetery, commonly called Potter’s Field, on Hart Island, the Bronx, in Long Island Sound. Burials are done with inmate labor, under supervision of Correction staff. Inmates are paid between 25 and 35 cents per hour. The supervised inmate work details are bused from Rikers Island and ferried from City Island on weekdays to perform the burials, disinterments and maintenance tasks. The Island is 101 acres, measuring approximately one mile long and one-eighth to one-third of a mile wide. It is maintained by the Department of Correction. Hart Island is not open to the public.”

The pay rate seems pretty paltry, but I once read that inmates vie for the positions because it gets them out into the open air.


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