Alternative Funerals

When a family member or loved dies it leads to a decision about how best to lay that person to their final resting place, a decision that involves the whole family’s wishes and normally involves a traditional burial or cremation service. However, that’s not the only solution out there; in fact there are a number of alternatives that you may feel reflects the wishes of the deceased and provide better, more fitting care for them.


Cyromation is an automated process whereby the deceased body is lowered into liquid nitrogen up to a temperature of -196°C. This process relies on pressure to break up the human body into smaller particles; this allows for the separation and eventual removal of foreign materials from the body.

After this, further chemical and freeze drying techniques produce sterile granular remains which are void of any bacterial residue.

Incinerator Replacement Technology Ltd is a funeral company that specialises in producing Cryomator units, which are used throughout this process and requires no human intervention whatsoever, eliminating the risk of cross contamination and ensuring that the process is completely clean.

Cryomation offers a greener alternative to traditional cremation, and the remains of the deceased require considerably less land for burial.

Alkaline Hydrolysis

The body placed inside a specialist machine and then covered with an alkaline-based solution with a high pH; this effectively disposes of human remains whilst producing less carbon dioxide and other pollutants that are normally associated with cremations. After allowing time for the chemical reaction to take place, attendants then take the bones, wash them, take them out and form them into a fine white powder. Whilst the entire process lasts much longer than a standard cremation – anywhere between eight and twelve hours – environmental downsides and pollution are much reduced.

In short, the process is design to mimic the stages that the body goes through naturally during decomposition. Whilst a number of companies offer this service as an alternative to cremation it has yet to become a patented method of disposal of human remains.

Cryonic Preservation

A method normally associated more with science fiction than with reality, cryonic preservation is nevertheless a means for many people of preserving themselves until medical technology has advanced enough in the future to revive them. Around 270 people have thus far been put through this process as of 2013, and each of these is stored in a specially designed liquid nitrogen tank at a balmy -196°C.

The process itself involves a rapid cooling of the body immediately after death. Although procedures are carried out exclusively in the United States, a number of supporting organisations in the UK can prepare the body as a preliminary stage and then transport it to the US in order to undergo the full procedure.


Not from Ancient Egypt, but from contemporary America comes the method of modern mummification, offered by Summum, a religious organisation who believe that this process offers the “only form of permanent preservation”. Whilst their service is not available in the UK, Summum do accept bodies shipped from the UK and only asks for a donation of £45000, in addition to covering the expense of shipping the body to the U.S. and back to the UK.

Whilst some reports have suggested that people were mummified by Summum, the majority of mummifications thus far have been carried out on deceased pets in accordance with the wishes of their owners.

Memorial Reefs

Another option comes again from organisations based in the United States. Two of these, private companies Eternal Reefs and Neptune Reefs, specialise in providing memorial reefs for the deceased. An Eternal Reef is an artificial, man-made coral reef, whereby families can give their loved one to the ocean and create a vibrant and environmentally sustainable habitat for marine life to prosper.

The casting of the reef is carried out in near to the designated reef site, and can be accompanied by a full and fitting ceremony. A plaque, including a personally designed inscription from the family of the deceased, can also be fixed onto the reef.

Family and loved ones have the option of being as involved as they want to, and can personalise the top of the reef with their own “hand” prints, as well as mix the remains of the loved one into the concrete itself in order to create the “Pearl” centre piece that fits inside the reef ball. At the end of the process, the reef is cast into its designated spot, and in time will come to provide habitats for a diverse range of aquatic animals who may otherwise not be able to survive due to their natural habitats being destroyed.

Whilst this service is an exclusively American one, ashes from the UK can be used is the proper methods for transportation are observed.

For more information you can visit the Eternal Reefs website at Eternal Reefs

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