[Image Source: collage by Stellabelle]
You probably don’t put much thought into the way your own death will be handled in the future, but if you’re like me, you’re curious about the alternatives to being buried or cremated. Being sunk into the earth or burned in a fiery pit until reduced to ashes just doesn’t sound very appealing for some reason. Luckily, there are now a number of unusual and viable alternatives, many of which use innovative technologies and futuristic concepts. One of the alternatives listed below doesn’t yet exist, but probably will in the future. Some methods are highly altruistic in nature, while others are deeply connected to our insatiable desire to achieve immortality.
Cryonics is the costly practice of preserving dead bodies by using various procedures with the hope that resuscitation and restoration to normal health may be possible in the future. The dominant process is to coat the body with cryoprotectants and then cool it to temperatures below -130ºC. Immersion in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196ºC is also commonly practiced. The established scientific community views this field with skepticism. Further research: Cryonics Institute
There a few examples of naturally occurring cryogenic species, one of which is the water bear, or tardigrade. In the absence of water, the water bear enters a state of cryptobiosis. Their ability to remain desiccated for such a long period is due to the high levels of the sugar trehalose, which protects their membranes from damage. You may be familiar with this microscopic multicellular organism because it was successfully sent to outer space and arrived back on earth unharmed. The water bear is the first known animal to survive in space.
[Image Source: Eternal Reefs]
Why not be buried at sea and help restore the dying reefs in our oceans at the same time? Well, now you can with Eternal Reefs. Eternal Reefs was born when two college roommates had begun to notice the deterioration of the reefs over the years while on holidays in Florida. Don Brawley, founder of Eternal Reefs knew that something must be done. While his father-in-law was dying, he told Don he wanted his remains to be put in a reef. A while later, after he died, while Don was holding his cremated remains, he remembered his father-in-law’s last dying wish and Eternal Reefs was born. Don then created a reef ball that mimicked the properties and characteristics of natural reef structures. The reef balls are constructed of neutral pH materials that microorganisms find hospitable. Special design features were included to make it easy for sea life to attach and grow on these designed reef structures. The least expensive reef ball starts at $3,995.