a cemetery with many headstones with Arlington National Cemetery in the background

A Look at Burial Alternatives

Green funerals. Green burials. Fire cremations. Water cremations. Viewings. No viewings. Services with a mass. Private services. Digital services. Memorials. The choices can seem almost endless when it comes to burial and final disposition options for the deceased. Whether you’re next of kin trying to make decisions for a loved one, or perfectly living and looking to complete your funeral pre-plan, read on to learn more about the options available to you in the funeral industry.

Traditional Burial and Services with Twists


You could opt for a traditional burial and funeral services. Even then, there are some alternatives and special considerations you could choose that might make your traditional burial a little more unique. For example, it’s possible to donate the deceased’s body, brain, or other organs to science. More intense than donating organs, this means your body will be used for students learning anatomy, or practicing incisions and surgical systems, like an open surgery or laparoscopic surgery. The gift of your body to science could help save lives and teach surgical students their trade. After donating a body to science, most people don’t know that the human remains are buried in a mass grave. Scientists who used your body for research and training hold regular burials where your family and friends can attend to say their final goodbyes.

For those concerned with the lack of control over a donated body when it comes to burial but want something different from traditional services, the most popular option is cremation. To locate a crematory in your area, start with a Google search for ‘cremation near me.’ In the meantime, no matter what option you go with for burial, your funeral home or crematory director will ask about plans for a memorial service. Options can range from family only to a bigger gathering, depending on your region’s Covid-19 restrictions. Memorial services can be digital and streamed live, in person, or handled in a number of other creative ways. Your best option is to use your imagination and ask your funeral director about possibilities.

No two funeral homes are the same. In the United States, there are also different rules and regulations each funeral director must adhere to. However, the following are a few examples of unusual requests most funeral home directors could easily accommodate:

  • Burying the deceased with an electronic tablet, robotic arm, mobile device, backup drive, stuffed animal, or anything at all that was meaningful to them.
  • Pulling memorial footage from a 50GB hard drive to Livestream during virtual services.
  • Giving family permission to watch a low-cost cremation for closure’s sake.
  • Allowing family to use nontraditional urns to be used for the storage of ashes if they opted for cremation services.
  • Syncing funeral services to a personal cloud.
  • Playing family member approved music off android devices, mobile phones, the Apple iCloud, iDrive, or an external hard drive during services as a tribute.

Cremation Options


A direct cremation and cremation service is becoming an increasingly popular option. Because cremations are more affordable than traditional burial, more people are choosing this route. Especially in a global pandemic, cremation can be more convenient too. Many families are opting to do a direct cremation now, bring ashes home, and hold a memorial service after Covid-19 restrictions list. For these families, searches for best personal cloud storage, new technology, and good internet connections are more important than ever. Families holding off on traditional services are using smartphones and cloud services to remember their deceased in shared albums, through Zoom, and by using other apps until they can connect again in person.

For families choosing cremation, ask the funeral director about their funeral service options when it comes to fire or water cremation. If, for example, the deceased was an environmentalist, they might want to opt for water cremation simply because it means less pollution. The same way a green funeral and green options are growing trends with a nod toward Mother Nature, funeral homes all over the United States are beginning to consider greener options when it comes to the care of the deceased.

Alternative End of Life Plans or Arrangements


For many people who are in good health and have no reason to think they would die anytime soon, it’s never too early to look into options. In the middle of a global pandemic where mortality is on everyone’s mind more often than before Covid-19, ordinary people are looking into their end of life choices and coming up with pre-plans the same way they’d write up a business plan. As crass as it may sound, it’s actually something that helps next of kin.

The same way a surgeon would oversee robotic surgery and hope for precision when it comes to surgical instruments and incisions, these forward thinkers are hoping to make their eventual deaths more like robotic procedures that mean fewer decisions for their family members. With pre-plans, something most funeral homes encourage, there’s no guessing about whether to cremate or bury, what kind of memorial service to have, or what alternatives to consider. Instead, family members can simply make affordable arrangements with greater precision in line with their loved one’s last wishes.

In the end, how you or your family members decide to handle final arrangements is an entirely personal decision. Taking the time to set a formal pre-plan with your local funeral home will take the guesswork out of your own arrangements for your next of kin. If you’ve recently lost someone and are struggling with making decisions, the best you can do is make choices based on what you believe your loved one would want. Consider cost, convenience, and final arrangements that honor them as their authentic self best.