Australians opting for 'alternative approaches' in human body disposal

Snow globes offer a new end.
Snow globes offer a new end.

It seems Australians are increasingly requesting in their wills to be made into snow globes, vinyl records and other unusual things.

View Legal director Matthew Burgess, who specialises in estate planning, said the most common forms of body disposal in Australia included cremation, burial and donation to science.

But according to Burgess there is a "significant and growing interest in alternative disposal approaches" including composting, where bodies are turned into soil so they can grow new life.

He said some of the latest trends included turning human ashes into snow globes and vinyl records.

"We average around five requests a year for snow globes," he said.

"Vinyl records is one that is becoming increasingly popular among Baby Boomers.

He said other clients had requested for their hair and ashes to be made into diamonds or shot into the sky as firecrackers.

"Particularly the US, this approach is very popular," Burgess said.

It's also a growing trend in Australia with some businesses, including Ashes to Ashes, specialising in "sending cremated ashes skyward".

Heart In Diamond is one of several companies that turns human ashes into diamonds "so you can hold on to your special memories of (loved ones) - forever". Prices range from A$3135 ($3342) for a budget orange-yellow diamond to more than A$30,000 for a one or two carat blue or white diamond.

The law firm has also had a "number of inquiries" about human ashes being made into glass orbs and hour glasses but none of Burgess' clients have yet made their plans official.

There is also more interest in cost-effective "deluxe cardboard coffins" than ever before, he said.

Others have asked about their ashes being sent into space to orbit the Earth indefinitely.

"While we have had requests in relation to space flight, to date, we are yet to have anyone proceed," Burgess said, primarily because of the cost.

According to Burgess, traditional and cultural methods of body disposal, including mummification and "at-sea burials", were still common.

Melbourne man Roy Schiavello, who had died at 30 during a brain tumour operation, became Australia's first cryonic patient in 1990. His frozen body is stored at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona.

Few Australians have since forked out for cryonics with costs upwards of A$40,000.

An Australian organisation is set to break ground on a A$500,000 NSW facility to offer people the chance to be cryonically frozen after death in the hope that they could one day come back to life.

Southern Cryonics is searching for a construction firm to develop their project in Holbrook that is being funded by 10 Australian investors that have pitched in $50,000 each.

Once completed, Australia will become just the third country in the world after the US and Russia where bodies can be frozen at an estimated A$90,000 per person.

Other controversial concepts relating to human body disposal include the infamous cases of author Hunter S Thompson, whose ashes were reportedly "shot out of a cannon"; Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards who claimed to have "snorted" his father's ashes; and rap artist Tupac Shakur's whose former Outlawz band members revealed they smoked his ashes after the funeral.

- news.com.au

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