It's been said that two things in life are certain — death and taxes. And while the latter is outside of your control, your end-of-life plans can be as unique as your days on earth. At one time, end-of-life options only consisted of a burial in a cemetery or family plot. The cremation process offers flexibility and personalization that traditional burials do not. Today your final resting place can be in a thriving forest, a piece of cremation jewelry, or floating in space.
Cremation is currently the most popular end-of-life option in the United States. A recent study by Tulip estimates that 80% of Baby Boomers (adults between the ages of 55 and 64) plan to choose cremation. In 1960, when most Baby Boomers were children, only 3.6% of Americans were cremated. Cremation has become preferable to traditional burial in just one lifetime. This increase in popularity can be attributed to socioeconomic factors, the environmental impact of traditional burials, evolving beliefs about religious burials, and most importantly – cost.
Compared to traditional burials, cremation is a cost-effective alternative. A traditional burial, with plot and headstone, costs around $15,000 – while cremation only costs $2,200 on average. By some estimates, $15,000 for a traditional burial might be on the conservative side, with some caskets costing upwards of $10,000 on their own. For many, spending so much money on their burial feels unnecessary. And when it comes to sustainability – cremation is the obvious choice.
Traditional burials also come with a large carbon footprint. According to the Green Burial Council, the funeral industry uses 1.6 million tons of concrete, 64,500 tons of steel, and 20 million feet of hardwood every year. That's a staggering amount of resources to account for in your end-of-life plans. By opting for cremation, you preserve your legacy and the legacy of our planet.
When considering your end-of-life plans, cremation is only the first step. For those that want a unique end-of-life experience, the planning begins when you choose where your ashes will be placed or scattered. That could mean having your ashes placed in a conservation memorial forest or turning them into a diamond ring for your daughter. Whichever way you see your legacy living on, there’s a unique cremation alternative for you.
Perhaps the most well-known way to handle ashes, scattering gives you the freedom to choose when and how you memorialize your loved one. Some people choose to scatter ashes in a favorite place — such as a vacation they loved or a cabin they returned to year after year. Others want their ashes scattered in the ocean or within a memorial forest. Because of the flexibility of scattering, ashes can be shared amongst family members, spread once, in multiple places, or throughout the years. However, scattering ashes is illegal in some locations and doesn't provide a designated place for friends and family to return to for years to come.
Life immortalized through art
Our days on earth may be limited, but art made with cremation ashes will last for generations to come. Memorialize your loved ones with a piece of art that honors their life and keeps their memory alive. Some popular ways to preserve ashes with cremation art include:
Cremation jewelry allows you to keep the memory of your loved one close. Beads and pendants come in several categories: standard, custom, and stones — like diamonds and crystals. Each of these options is slightly different. Standard jewelry has a chamber for you to add the ash yourself, custom jewelry is made with some ash during the glassblowing process, and custom jewelry is made entirely from cremation ashes. There are many options, so find the unique cremation jewelry that speaks to you.
Did you know that you can use cremation ashes in a tattoo? According to the Neptune Society, a ritual tattoo is a tattoo that uses an ash-infused ink solution to create a meaningful piece of body art. The ink is used as it would be in any other tattoo, but the significance will last a lifetime.
Like cremation jewelry, you can have your ashes turned into a timeless piece of cremation glass art. There are endless ways to pay homage with glass art — including stained glass, vases, glass flowers, orbs, beads, and unrepeatable glass-blown pieces.
According to Perfect Farewells, cremation paintings are created by mixing ashes with specially formulated paint. After the paint and ash are mixed, artists can create a portrait or any other piece of art that you request.
Return to nature
As more people learn about the environmental impact of traditional burials, many seek out more sustainable end-of-life plans that help protect nature. Today there are beautiful options to immortalize your legacy, connect you with the majestic beauty of nature while preserving and honoring our planet. Some of those options include:
Ocean lovers can rest at the bottom of the ocean in an artificial memorial reef. Memorial reefs are created by mixing ashes and cement to create a reef mold. Once the mold is dry, the memorial reef is placed on the bottom of the ocean. These reefs stimulate coral generation and local marine life while giving your family GPS coordinates to your final resting place.
For those looking for an out-of-this-world end-of-life experience, Celestis Memorial Spaceflight will launch ashes into space — allowing your loved one to orbit the earth or settle on the moon. Space burials make looking up at the sky even more meaningful for friends and family.
Make your final resting place a contribution to conservation by being placed in a memorial forest. These forests are a peaceful alternative to traditional cemeteries, which are harsh on the natural environment. Our memorial forests help to protect iconic forestland across the country while offering a peaceful and protected space for the memory of your loved one to live on.
When it’s time, your ashes will be mixed with soil and placed at the base of your own private tree during a personalized memorial ceremony. This tree will remain a beautiful place for your family and friends to honor your life. And you can rest assured knowing that your final act will protect forests for future generations and the health and wellbeing of our planet.
If you’re interested in this option, schedule a free online forest tour with one of our advisors.
To learn more about your end-of-life options, we’ve written a guide to help you make this difficult decision. Talking about death is never easy, but by starting this discussion you’re taking steps to create a meaningful legacy for yourself. Read our Modern End of Life Options Guide to get started.