Planning for Your Body’s Final Resting Place

We know this is not exciting stuff. In fact, it can be quite morbid to think your death and what happens next. Yet, it is one of the more important and potentially expensive decisions that need to be made at the end of your life. Why not make your plans in advance, to ensure you wishes are followed and reduce the stress on your family? In a separate article we talk about Funeral Planning. Here, we review the disposal of the body.

In the past decade, there has been an explosion of ‘alternatives’ to traditional means of disposing of the body.

Options for Disposing of the Body

There are just a few considerations in making this final decision of what becomes of your body.

TypeFinal Resting Place
Traditional BurialBody placed in private or public cemetery.
Consideration given to size and nature of the plot:
– Single, double or family size
– Above ground (Mausoleum) or below ground
CremationRemains can be buried, scattered (where permitted), made into jewelry, or not returned
“Alternative green options”Usually in nature but can be inside in potted plants or a tree
OtherExamples of less common forms of disposition are burial at sea, alkaline hydrolysis (water cremation), aquamation, or resomation

For more details, check out these resources:

Eco-friendly Funeral

Eco-friendly or green burials becoming increasingly popular in recent years. Founded on the belief that death care practices shouldn’t be harmful to the environment, these burials aim to leave a minimal environmental impact. In fact, many people who consider green burials take into consideration processes of burial that conserve resources, protect workers from potentially harmful chemicals, and reduce carbon emissions so that they can contribute to the restoration and preservation of natural habitats. Numerous routes can be taken when approaching green burial, but most have a few common factors. For example, burials are typically considered green if non-toxic, biodegradable materials are used for burial, if harmful chemicals are not used during embalming, and if the casket is not covered by a concrete vault. In addition, many who choose green burials forgo traditional concrete headstones or grave markers and choose to mark graves naturally with trees, plants, or field stones.

For more information on alternative ‘green’ options:

Anatomical Donation

One option related to the final disposal of your body is whether you want to allow your body to be used to harvest organs or aid in medical science and learning. Note that in some cases, a body or tissue donation may be rejected because of the condition of your body or simply because it is not needed.

If you have chosen to donate parts of your body (appropriate organs or tissues), you still have the choice of body burial. However, if you have chosen to donate your whole body to medical science then the medical school will usually cremate it and bury or scatter the ashes in a specified plot. However, most institutions will agree to return the remains to a friend or family member for final disposal, usually after a year or so. In either case, you should indicate your preferences for whether your body should be cremated or buried.

Cost Considerations

As with funerals overall, the costs specific to the disposition of the body vary considerably. However, it is generally the case that cremation is cheaper than a traditional burial.

The exact cost of the disposal with be a function of the method, associated casket or other merchandise and whether there is an associated service.

For more information on understanding the main cost drivers, check out this resource:

For more information on finding the best cost options, check out this resource:

Engaging in Planning for the Your Body’s Final Resting Place

The same professionals that help with funerals are required for the final disposition of your body. We refer you to that section on the Funeral Planning blog for more information on getting help.

Summary and Conclusions

Think of it. After a wonderful life and a high-quality death, your body will be cared for and placed in a manner that is right for you, for the rest of time as we know it. It really is important that you have a plan in place for how your body will be disposed of. In doing this, you will be improving your mental and emotional health, by knowing your wishes and preferences will be respected in the manner that is right for you.  Also, you can rest assured and have peace of mind knowing that those you leave behind will be less stressed and anxious at your loss because you have planned ahead. We hope we have provided you with the necessary knowledge, tools and resources to help you engage in planning for this important step in your mortal journey.

Remember, if you want to live well and die well, you need to plan your final resting spot well!

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To live well, age well, and die well, you need to Plan Well ®