Traditional western-style burials, with their embalming fluids and coffins, are a trend in decline. More people opt for cremations these days, for reasons ranging from spiritual and environmental to financial. But what happens to your remains after the fire is limited only by your imagination – and your budget.
If you’ve got about R125 000 lying around, you could reserve a space for your ashes on the Sunjammer, a solar-propelled craft which, at the end of 2014, will carry a ‘precious payload of cremated remains on an infinite celestial journey around the sun’. There’s limited space and you have to make your reservations in plenty of time, so if you’re interested, waste no time in contacting Celestis.
If music was your passion in life, you could choose to ‘live on from beyond the groove’ by having your ashes pressed into a record. Andvinyl.com offers a basic package of 30 discs for about R50 000. Extras include original album-cover artwork, ‘bespook music’ (written especially for you), and the organisation of a ‘FUNeral’.
If you want to keep an eye on those who come after you, have your cremains incorporated into a memorial portrait of yourself. Memories From Ashes offers this service, with prices ranging from about R2 000 to R3 000 (depending on size), excluding postage, packaging and handling.
How about shining on as a crazy diamond? LifeGem turns your ashes into a high-quality memorial gemstone. Prices range from R25 000 to R250 000 per stone, depending on size and colour.
For an especially green way to go, Eternal Reefs will incorporate your ashes into a concrete ‘reef ball’ and sink it into the sea to create a ‘memorial reef’. Prices range from R20 000 to R70 000, depending on size.
If you do opt for burial, you can still go in style. Crazy Coffins, a UK-based company, supplies caskets shaped like anything from cellphones to chillis.
For the technologically minded, there are also a range of options. Quiring Monuments offers living headstones: ‘internet-connected memorials’ that incorporate a link in the form of a digital barcode. When a smartphone is waved over it, the barcode takes the user to a website containing information about the deceased, including an obituary, family background and photos, and links to Facebook and twitter. Prices for a lifetime subscription to a personal web page range from about R700 (with the purchase of a headstone from Quiring Monuments) to about R1 500 (for attachment to an exciting memorial).
And if you never want the party to stop, you could install the CataCombo, a unique in-coffin sound system featuring speakers and an amplifier, plus a tombstone with an upgradable music server. Made by Swedish company Pause, prices start at about R300 000.