Traditional funerals, with a graveside ceremony, are dwindling as people look to arrange more fitting tributes to a lost family member or friend.
Below we have outlined a few options and burial alternatives if you do not like the idea of simply being placed in a grave with minimal thought.
Traditional Church Burial Options
Single Or Double Plots
You can reserve single or double burial slots so that you can be joined by a friend or family member at a later date when you both have passed. You can also get family slots, which are more expensive if you want multiple family members together
You can reserve ashes interment slots at cemeteries to bury the ashes of a loved one or multiple people.
A “traditional burial” in the UK involves the internment of the deceased’s body, usually in a deep grave at a cemetary or churchyard.
Around 1/3 of the population still choose to be buried in traditional churchyards and cemeteries, meaning that room for over 160,000 new graves has to be found every year, which in some overcrowded urban environments, is starting to be a problem. This has led to more and more people looking for alternative funeral ideas.
The majority of cemeteries are non-denominational, and so most types of funeral service or ceremony can be conducted there. Advice will also be available from the ministers of the religion or religious organisation that the deceased may have belonged to. Obviously, if you choose to be buried in a churchyard, then the type of funeral/ceremony will be dictated by the particular faith practiced there.
Grave Plots in cemeteries can be pre-purchased. The person who has died may already have arranged a grave space in a churchyard or cemetery which may be included in the will or papers. If space has already been paid for in a cemetery there will be a Deed of Grant, which should be amongst the deceased papers.
The fees vary with plots costing anything from £30 to a few thousand, depending on the location. People should be aware that because of the pressure of space, particularly in bigger cities, most burial plots are sold on a system of the leasehold of usually 50-75 years with 100 years being the maximum. When a lease is coming to its end, the relatives of the deceased are usually sorted, to consider extending it for a fee. However, with families moving around a lot these days, contact can be very difficult if not impossible to achieve.
Consecrated churchyards are slightly different. Every parishioner has a right of burial in their local churchyard, provided there is space available and the churchyard has not been closed for burials by Order of the Council. In addition, any person whose name is on the electoral roll of the parish at the time of their death also has a right to burial, as does any person dying in the parish, whoever that person is. Any exceptions to this must have the consent of the church authority who’s decision is final, and some churches and parishes have their own slight variations (especially when it comes to memorial types), so best to check with the local priest or minister first.
A cheaper alternative to a standard cremation is the growing trend of direct cremation. This is basically a cremation without a service. The body is collected by the company and cremated at a specific time, the remains are then delivered back to you and you are free to plan a separate celebration that doesn’t include all of the regular church/crematorium business. This leads us to a celebration of life
This is a non religious funeral service, usually held at a crematorium, but again, it can be anywhere if you have opted for something like a direct cremation above. There are usually non religious songs and readings by family and friends and the service is taken by a humanist celebrant,
There are a growing number of sites that accommodate a woodland burial. This is where the body is buried amongst a woodland, in nature. Again, this can be non-religious or religious and the locations typically have a room where family and friends can gather. Read more on woodland burials in our guide.
There are many alternatives to burial, most very practical, some slightly bizarre – but all potentially possible if that’s what you want.
For many years, it has been the norm to have the resting place of the dead being ‘6 feet under. However, burials are slowly being ditched for alternative ways of conducting funerals. In some cultures, cremation has been practiced and it has caught up with many more people across the world. The following are alternatives to burial and cremation:
Yes – it is actually possible to be buried in your garden for all eternity. This can be conducted by someone of your choice or simply part of a DIY funeral.
Read our guide to get all the facts and laws required to be buried at home.
Organ / Body Donation
Some call body donation giving your body to science. Thanks to body donation, there came about developments in the medical field since medical experiments were done on cadavers. Organ donation is possible because after a person dies, some of the body parts can remain healthy and can be transplanted to recipients. It is ironic that it would take losing one life to save another one in such cases.
Burial at Sea
The land is not the only place where the bodies of the dead may be disposed of. The sea is a chosen place of final rest for many who love the sea, sailors especially. Sea burials aka being buried at sea are also not costly because the body is wrapped up in cloth then tossed into the sea.
This practice that was conducted in ancient Egypt has gained popularity in recent years. Mummification has been modernized and embraced by people in various parts of the world. After the wrapping up of the body, it is then submerged into a tank that has liquids that can preserve the body.
Sky Burial (Exposure)
Exposure is the most natural way of disposing of a body. The body is left to elements of nature and to wild animals. Such bodies may rot or be eaten by wild animals and scavengers. Sky burials have been commonly practiced in Tibet, where the land is too rocky to dig for burial and there are no resources for cremation.
Some other cremation alternatives include
If the thought of strong chemicals that dissolve body cells during dissolution does not please you, resomation may be an option for you. Resomation is an eco-friendly option because alkali and water-based solutions are used in decomposing the body. This is done while under high pressure, breaking down the body to liquid and bone ash. This liquid can then be recycled. It can be poured onto a garden or natural spaces. The bone ash can be put in an urn.
If you are a fan of crime movies, this may sound familiar. Dissolution is the process of dissolving a body using strong chemicals. Usually, the body parts may be separated and then dipped into a tank that has strong chemicals. The body then quickly breaks down and dissolves.
Live and die majestically
In the face of death, a life fully lived will be worth it all. After living majestically, you may opt to have a majestic send-off. Luckily, you will have options since there are alternatives to burial and cremation and more people are now open-minded, embracing these methods and respecting the wishes of the dead. Choose a non-traditional burial method. You may make your wish known to your family and loved ones so that they may see to it when the time comes.