If turning yourself into a tree sounds like the way to go, you have at least two afterlife options.
The fashionable Bios Urn comes with a tree seedling encased in an urn made of coconut shell, cellulose and peat. Your ashes go in and they become part of the tree as it sprouts and rises. You can even choose the type of tree you want to be. The urn costs about $200.
A competitor in the turn-yourself-into-a-plant market is the Spirit Tree, a biodegradable urn which feeds the tree along with the "calcium-rich cremated remains." The ashes go in the concave bottom piece and a cover keeps the ashes from blowing around. The cost? About $225.
Andvinyly, a UK-based outfit, has this offer: After you die, you can have some of your cremated ashes pressed into a vinyl record. (A tagline on their website says, "Pressed for Time.")
There are many different packages available. You can choose your own music, or none at all. You could even put the audio from your very best Powerpoint presentation. Think of the possibilities!
"The customers are people who have ashes of loved ones who they know would have loved the idea," says a spokesman who calls himself "The Undertaker." They also own audio recordings of their loved one's voice, and photo imagery they know they will use. Prices start at a little more than $3,000.
There are a number of applications that allow a person to manage his or her digital afterlife. The site If I die, for example, offers a way for three people to confirm that the owner of the Facebook page is in fact dead and access the page. Legacy Locker and SecureSafe offer options for dealing with your inevitable final status update. I-Tomb offers what it calls a "virtual cemetery."
Facebook itself has a policy that says it will put accounts in a kind of "memorial mode" when someone dies. That basically stops the profile from appearing in suggestion pages and puts the privacy setting to "Friends Only."
Screen capture from Donald Scrugg's patent application
California inventor Donald Scruggs came up with the idea for a corkscrew-like coffin, and now has a patent for it. From the patent application: " burial containers...provide low cost internment methods with hermetic sealing, security locking, plaque and memorial markers and built in flower and flag receptacles." Nice.
But you're screaming, "Why?" Good question. Again, from the patent application: "[The coffins] greatly reduce excavation labor and burial costs ... they also decrease the land space required for each burial and provide for burials in normally unused areas within the cemetery."
The patent application didn't mention that the screw-in would also provide a number of great jokes at the deceased's expense, another potential benefit that gets our thumbs up.
Screen capture from Promessa video
Forget about cremation, with all of that heat and pollution. You can go the opposite direction, and freeze yourself to dust, courtesy of a Swedish company called Promessa. Your corpse is frozen down to -18 degrees Celsius. Then, coffin and all, you are lowered into liquid nitrogen.
Inside the coffin, according to Promessa, your body "becomes very firm and brittle." Then body and coffin are subjected to "light vibration," and ... well, dust to dust (55 to 65 pounds, in fact) as they say. You then get a coffin made from corn and/or potato starch. You and your coffin will compost in six months to a year. Promessa recommends planting a tree above the grave, as it will "absorb the nutrients given off."
Memorial markers are expensive. So why not do away with all that gilded marble? Indeed, but how will love ones know how to find you? Ah, GPS of course!
A natural burial park in Sydney, Australia will have no gravestones. Instead, a GPS device will be put in each coffin, so that loved ones can home in on your eternal signal. The cemetery is not, presumably, responsible if the satellites aren't aligned in the heavens correctly.
Think mummies are only for pharaohs? Think again, friend. You can basically stick around forever by getting your dead self mummified. A company called Summum provides "a synthesis of medical technology, modern chemistry, and esoteric art." You'll be wrapped in fine cloth and placed in an artful casket. And you, like King Tut, can have your own life mask.
Talk about one-upping the neighbors -- wait til Steve gets a load of this. One catch: You're probably going to need a mausoleum too. This thing shouldn't get too hot.
Diamonds are forever -- and so can you be -- if you have your carbon compressed into a sparkling yellow or blue diamond. "LifeGem diamonds are created individually from your specific carbon source in our patented process," the company says. LifeGem will take your ashes and compress them into a diamond, which can then be placed in a ring setting or necklace. Depending on the carat size, prices run from about $2,500 to nearly $20,000.
Are there options? Of course there are options. The service is also available for pets. And if the full cremation experience isn't your thing, LifeGem will work with a lock of hair.
If burial at sea is more your vibe, consider becoming part of the sea floor. Eternal Reefs will cast your ashes into a concrete, boulder-sized reef. After casting, the "memorial reef" can be customized with messages or handprints or mementos.
After a four-day production process, the "reef ball" is ready to go. On the day of placement, the memorial reef is taken to the reef site for a dedication, and then placed. Prices range from about $3,000 to $7,000. And yes, financing is available.
You can talk high-tech and chemistry all you want, but what about getting your atoms back into the food chain ASAP? Why not consider a sky burial. It's popular in Tibet, where wood for coffins is historically scarce, and where it's impossible to dig down very far because of frozen earth. You ritualistically cut the corpse, then leave it out on a mountaintop for the critters to have at it. It's a practice known as jhator, or "giving alms to the birds." Who's in?