Australia markets open in 3 hours 15 minutes
  • ALL ORDS

    6,373.70
    -10.00 (-0.16%)
     
  • AUD/USD

    0.7138
    +0.0021 (+0.29%)
     
  • ASX 200

    6,167.00
    -6.80 (-0.11%)
     
  • OIL

    39.78
    -0.07 (-0.18%)
     
  • GOLD

    1,903.40
    -1.80 (-0.09%)
     
  • BTC-AUD

    18,236.03
    +1.63 (+0.01%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    260.05
    -1.40 (-0.54%)
     

Funeral ideas are drastically changing

Don't want a boring old funeral? You're in luck - when it comes to disposing of your earthly remains, there are now more options than ever.

After you die you could have the carbon extracted from your remains and have it made into jewellery. Or you can be planted in an eco-friendly coffin and fertilise a tree. Want to be buried at sea? There's an urn made of salt for that. Or you could have your ashes sent up in a weather balloon to help seed clouds.

All of those options - and many, many more - were recently on display in Austin recently at the National Funeral Directors Association's annual convention.

The convention brought 5,800 people from 50 countries to Austin, including funeral directors, mortuary science students, exhibitors and others.

One of the most eye-catching burial options on display was a mushroom burial suit, which is embedded with mushroom spores that speeds up the decomposition of the human body.

While the mushroom suit is an extreme example, there's a definite change in the way people are being buried - or not buried - these days.

"People went from sitting in a room for three days and having these high-end, expensive funerals to now they're sending ashes to the moon and burying on the Great Barrier Reef and having funerals on beaches and just doing crazy, crazy stuff," said Cody Joachim, an employee of FuneralOne, a tech company that offers products like online memorial pages.

To the unaccustomed, the convention can be a bit jarring. There are body lifts, hearses off all kinds and, of course, a variety of caskets. The event even included a competition called Design for Death, which included more than 1,300 entries from more than 700 designers, architects and artists who were invited to think of new ways to memorialise the dead.

But once you get past the initial heebie-jeebies about death and burial, funeral directors will tell you that their job is quite simple - assisting families in memorialising their loved ones.

"People always say: 'What's the weirdest thing that ever happened?'" said Walker Posey, a spokesman for the funeral director's association.

"I struggle finding an off-the-wall story to tell because most of it's very normal. I mean, we're dealing with families who are trying to get through an emotional experience. We're helping them, and by and large there's no creepiness or weird things that happen. It's very much centred around helping families heal."

Technology has changed the funeral industry over the past 10 years with tribute videos now in funeral homes and people searching for new ways to honour their loved ones.

"You might get someone who says they don't want anything - but then you realise if this family does nothing they're going have a major problem dealing with grief down the road," he said. "So, we have to suggest things that we think could help them."

Last year, Posey held a funeral in a theatre, with a thousand attendees and live bands performing. The deceased was a kayaker, so his friends got kayaks and accompanied the urn along the river as it dissolved away.

Another vendor, LifeGem, can extract the carbon from your loved one's remains and make a synthetic diamond from it. Greg Herro, a company executive, said he's making about 700 to 800 such gems a year.

"This is a beautiful way to keep your loved one near and with you when you're out and about," he said.