Life today is incredibly different from how it was one hundred years ago – and it will no doubt be unrecognisable in another century. Why shouldn’t death be different as well? The evolving concerns and customs of the human race, as well as the onward march of technology, means that funerals in the future are likely to change considerably from our habits today.
Or will they? In fact, many forward-thinking initiatives are already being employed in some funerals around the world. Here’s a rundown of the kinds of services which could grace our churchyards and cemeteries in the not-too-distant future (and in some cases, already are doing so).
The affordable funeral
The average cost of a funeral today stands at £3,748, which is no small expense – but already, cheaper alternatives are on the market. In particular, the increasingly popular phenomenon of funeral plans allows people to lock in tomorrow’s service at today’s prices, saving a significant amount of outlay. They also allow people to pick and choose exactly what parts of a service they want to pay for and how they want the event to unfold.
The technological funeral
Playing videos and songs at a funeral is nothing new, but what about innovative technological media? A 3-D hologram of the deceased, for example, partaking in a favourite hobby or even giving a pre-recorded speech to the congregation? Why stop at the service itself? With the ability to incorporate such technology into the tombstone, visitors to the grave could log on using their smartphone and access a wealth of information and media about the dearly departed.
The space-age funeral
It might sound preposterous, but the wealthy are already able to have their mortal remains shot into space. What better send-off than a lift-off? US-based company Celestis Memorial Spaceflights offer well-heeled clients the chance to find a final resting place among the stars for as little as $12,500, while more affordable launch-and-return services can be snapped up for between $1,295 and $4,995. The final frontier, indeed.
The environmental funeral
With our carbon footprint an increasingly weighty topic on people’s minds, a market has sprung up to cater for those who wish to have a greener send-off. Modern alternatives to the environmentally unfriendly status quo of burial or cremation include bio-urns (which sprout into trees after being buried), eternal reefs (which mix the deceased’s ashes with a sustainable cement substitute and submerge them as means of creating an artificial coral reef) and resomation (which uses alkaline hydrolysis to convert the body into powder with only a fraction of the energy consumption or pollution of cremation).
The global funeral
Already an increasingly popular option for those with friends and family far and wide across the globe, the possibility of streaming a funeral live using a long-distance video service like Skype or Facetime means that everyone can participate in the celebration of the deceased’s life, even if they live on another continent.