So you have a dead body on your hands, what now? For most of us, a traditional burial or cremation are the two options available for dealing with the dearly departed, but they’re far from the only ways. Right now there are numerous ways you can have a body taken care of that are non-traditional and just a little bit nutty. But hey, when you’re dead, do you really care what happens to your body? Maybe one of these will appeal to you.
Despite sounding like it involves evil spirits at a school dance, promession is actually a fairly unique method of body disposal that relies chiefly on freeze drying. Basically turning your body into astronaut ice cream, the corspe is made brittle thanks to immersion in liquid nitrogen. Using vibration, awesomely illustrated above by the shaky lines, the body is then shattered into tiny pieces and a vacuum sublimates the ice away, leaving a fine powder that used to be grandma. Consider it the ying to cremation’s yang.
The remaining powder weighs about 70% less than the original body, and can be placed in a biodegradable coffin, like a cornstarch one, and within a year the body is completely absorbed into the soil.
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Going back to a more old school method of body disposal is the sky burial, a tradition in Tibet, Mongolia and other countries. When the ground is unforgiving and burning a body is not an option, a sky burial affords you the opportunity to let a different aspect of nature works its magic. Place on a high hill or mountain peak, a body is exposed to the elements where wind and cold and, in particular, predatory birds are left to do what they do best.
Once vultures have pulled the body apart and eaten everything that can be eaten, the bones can be smashed into powder and mixed with butter and flour to make cakes for the other birds, ensuring the entire body has been consumed by nature, which is kind of awesome. Time consuming and a bit grisly, but awesome.
Just imagine, you could be eaten by a bird one day and pooped on the hood of your neighbor’s car the next.
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Never heard of resomation? Count yourself lucky, unless you like morbid stuff. Resomation is the process of dissolving a body in a water and alkali solution of some kind. The remains are placed in a resomation chamber where heat, pressure and the water/alkali mixture break the body down chemically over about 2 to 3 hours, which is not unlike cremation. The end result is a sterile liquid which can literally be flushed if you’re down with that, and bone ash similar to what you’d get from a cremation which can be preserved in a vessel or some kind.
Currently resomation is only used to dispose of animal carcasses in the US, and bodies in some medical facilities. The mainstream acceptance of the process as an alternative to cremation is meeting a bit of criticism due to the fact no one likes the idea of corpse water going down the drain.
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Does the idea of your remains remaining on the earth at all make you sad? Worry no longer! Technology has progressed so far that you’re no longer bound by the confines of the planet on which you were born and died. Celestis offers outer space memorials that allow you to choose if you’d like to hit the atmosphere, burn up in it, get shot at the moon or just head out into the farthest reaches of the vastness of our galaxy in a little metal capsule and maybe run afoul of an alien intelligence that can recreate you from your cremains and use you as some kind of soulless abomination to attack the Earth. That option is the most expensive one.
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Ancient Egypt had a lot going for it, not the least of which was the way they treated their dead. No one is likely to craft a massive pyramid to house you today, but they can mummify you the ancient Egyptian way so that your body will be around for ages to come and, who knows, maybe they can clone you in the future.
Summum, based out of Salt Lake City, is a religion/philosophy that began in the 1970s. They even have their own pyramid! Their philosophy aside (the founder may or may not have met aliens who taught him an enlightened way of living), the religion seems to be about drinking wine and meditating on some level, which can’t be all bad. Plus they offer mummification service for people and pets.
The process is an interesting one and includes soaking in a bath of preservation solution after the organs have been removed, cleaned and put back in, plus a polyurethane membrane over layers of gauze to make sure you stay fresh in there. After that you get coated in resin ad fiberglass, then put in a bronze mummiform which will be filled with amber resin. Then the whole thing is welded closes so you have no chance of waking up and bumbling around with Abbot and Costello. All that for only $63,000 or so.