Photo by casch52
As cremations have become more and more popular in recent years, people have devised a number of unusual ways to commemorate the dearly departed. If you're looking for a unique way to be remembered, here are 12 strange things you can do with your cremated remains.
1. You Can Be Shot Into Space
Celestis made headlines in 1997 when they launched the cremated remains of 60's icon Timothy Leary and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry into space. For a fairly reasonable fee (starting at $695), you can send a "symbolic portion" of yourself on the next available mission, riding alongside a commercial or scientific satellite.
You can come back to Earth after the flight, or pay more to remain in orbit. You'll stay there for an estimated 10 to 240 years before reentering the atmosphere in a blaze of fire. In the future, Celestis plans to launch cremated remains into the moon's orbit, to the surface of the moon, and possibly into deep space.
2. You Can Be Exploded With Fireworks
Yes, you can literally "go out with a bang."
Companies like Heaven's Above Fireworks can pack a small portion of your ashes into professional-grade fireworks and stage a memorial display for your survivors. You can choose a big, noisy, colorful display or a quieter, more understated event.
For a smaller fee, you can have your ashes stuffed into small, self-fired rockets, so your family can have their own private fireworks ceremony at home.
3. You Can Be Mixed Into a Coral Reef
Environmentalist? Ocean lover? You can create your own "living legacy" by having your ashes turned into an artificial coral reef. Your remains will help restore damaged reefs and create a nurturing marine environment for fish and other forms of sea life.
Starting around $4,000, Eternal Reefs will mix your cremated remains into concrete, shape the artificial reef and place the reef out on the sea floor. Larger personal reefs can hold up to four people and include pets. If that's too pricey, you can have your remains mixed together with others and as part of a complete reef system.
4. You Can Be Crushed Into a Diamond
Jewelry from human remains? It sounds ghoulish, but we're not talking about necklaces made from bones or teeth.
With companies like LifeGem, your carbon remains (or a lock of your hair) can be crushed into a gemstone that is identical to a natural diamond on a molecular level. Using modern technology, this process only takes a few months instead of millions of years.
It's not cheap, though. Expect to shell out a few grand for the smallest gems, and that doesn't include the cost of the setting.
5. You Can Be Fired In Hand-Blown Glass
Can't shell out a small fortune to be crushed into a diamond? For a fraction of the price, you can still be turned into bling at Memory Glass.
Starting around $150, the artists at Memory Glass take a small portion of cremated remains and infuse them into hand-blown glass keepsakes and jewelry. Each member of your family can get their own colorful glass pendant to wear on a chain or leather cord.
6. You Can Be Painted Into a Work of Art
The professional artist at Ashes to Portraits creates oil paintings of the deceased with traces of cremated ashes mixed in. If you like this idea, make sure you leave behind a large, close-up photograph to work from (at minimum, 4" x 6", but the bigger the better). They'll also do portraits of your cremated pet.
If you prefer something less literal, you can send a bit of your ashes to Art in Ashes. Their staff painter creates colorful modern abstract art mixed with cremated remains. You can choose one of their pre-made compositions or let them know what colors you want to see.
7. You Can Be Launched in a Helium Balloon
Scattering cremated remains by airplane is fairly common these days, but it can be expensive and difficult for family members to participate. The Eternal Ascent Society makes aerial ash scattering more accessible and affordable by placing the ashes inside a large helium balloon and launching it into the clouds.
The balloon itself is 5 feet wide and comes in red, green, blue and yellow. About 6 miles up into the sky, the atmosphere gets so cold that the balloon will freeze and shatter, and your ashes will disperse into the clouds. It's biodegradable, so you don't have to worry about damaging the environment.
8. You Can Be Stuffed Into a Teddy Bear
Huggable Urns are stuffed animals with a lined velvet compartment inside to hold a person's cremated remains. You can choose from a number of teddy bears, plush dogs and cats or just a simple, soft pillow.
You can send in a loved one's clothing or special blanket to have a small outfit or accessory made for your Huggable Urn. They also make customized stuffed animals, if you'd like one that looks just like a deceased pet.
9. You Can Be Mounted to a Vehicle
Some people are happiest when they're behind the wheel, and now you can be there permanently after your demise. A Mobile Cremation Urn can be mounted on a motorcycle, motor home, car, truck, police cruiser, cruise ship or pretty much anything else that moves.
You can personalize your mobile cremation urn with engraving, and add your picture to the mobile urn with your name or a favorite quote. You can also choose a commemorative disc for the end cap based on your religion, profession, military service or social organization.
10. You Can Be the Sand in an Hourglass
An interesting twist on the typical urn is the Hourglass Keepsake Urn. This hourglass is filled with cremated ashes instead of sand, creating a lovely symbol of the passage of time in every person's life.
If you and your spouse or loved one would like to share an hourglass, your ashes can be mixed into a single urn.
11. You Can Be Turned Into a Box of Pencils
With this project, artist Nadine Jarvis is exploring the idea of turning a deceased person from "ashes to ashes." She estimates that about 240 pencils could be made from the carbon of human cremains.
The pencils would be stored inside a specially designed box, with a sharpener in its side and a viewing window on top. When the pencils are sharpened into the side of the box, the pencil shavings turn into a new kind of ash, and the box becomes a kind of urn.
12. You Can Be Built Into a Pyramid
In ancient Egypt, the pyramids were built to hold the remains and worldly goods of the royal deceased. Unfortunately, these "permanent" monuments have deteriorated under the stresses of time, weather and incessant grave-robbing.
In modern times, a company called PYRA Development wants to build pyramids out of a high-impact polymer that would last over a million years. Each building block of the pyramid would contain the remains and memorabilia of a deceased person.
There's no evidence that this project ever got off the ground, but it's a fascinating idea nonetheless.
It's never too early to start planning for the end of life ... especially if you're considering something a little out of the ordinary. A life insurance policy can provide your loved ones with the funds they need to carry out your last wishes.