Arranging your burial: How you can choose your own options

Everyone has a different opinion about the afterlife, but when it comes to the physical process of arranging your burial plan there are a number of options available for everyone.

The burial process is an important aspect of the funeral and end-of-life planning. It’s a way to celebrate your life and who you were, while also giving your friends and family an opportunity to mourn and show their love and respect even after you have gone.

Just as most people like to have a say in how their funeral is run, so too should your burial be an essential part of your end-of-life plans. Preparing ahead of time can give you peace of mind your wishes will be carried out the way you would have wanted them to.

Standard burials in a cemetery and cremations are something most people will know about already, but there are also a variety of other burial alternatives that are continuing to grow in popularity.

Some options for your burial

According to the Australian Funeral Directors Association (AFDA), in recent years the trend for cremations has been rising steadily in Australia, due to factors such as religious or cultural beliefs or limits on available cemetery plots. However, cremation won’t be for everyone and many people still choose the traditional option of a physical burial within a cemetery of their choice.

As with all other aspects of the end-of-life planning, the chosen mode of burial will be affected by the person’s individual beliefs and wishes. Some people favour a conventional burial as their final resting place, while others would prefer not to take up space in a cemetery. Over the years more options have been created for the end-of-life stage, so you have even more choice when it comes to your final resting place.

Green burial

One method gaining traction with environmentally-minded people is the natural or green burial. Here, the body is recycled directly into the earth. Instead of the usual chemicals used in the embalming process, bodies are placed into a biodegradable coffin or wrapped in a natural fibre shroud so they can decompose and be absorbed back into the soil.

Burial at sea

Some people wish to be buried at sea. For a physical burial at sea, a permit will be required from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

Generally, permits for burial at sea are only granted to those who can demonstrate a personal connection with it such as fishermen or navy members. For that reason, if you do wish to have a burial at sea it’s even more important to make this clear in your will or talk about it with a loved one.

If you don’t qualify for a proper at sea burial, cremated ashes can be scattered where the family wishes, or even turned into a reef where they can be left in the sea to help replace degraded reefs. Or if you prefer you could have your ashes scattered in space.

Other alternatives

There are a number of new green alternatives emerging, including Aquamation, Resomation, and Promession.
Aquamation uses the chemical process to decompose the body in the same way in which a body would decompose if it was buried in the ground or in a stream of water. The body is placed in a steel tank and a process of flowing water, high temperature and alkalinity are then used to accelerate the process of decomposition.

Resomation or body liquefaction is a process where the body is placed in a chamber and turned into liquid. Only the bones remain and these are then ground into dust. And Promession is where the remains are frozen in liquid nitrogen, after which they then crumble. Neither of these processes are currently available in Australia.

Preparing for your funeral and burial

When a loved one passes away, it’s up to the next of kin to arrange all of the end-of-life matters such as the funeral and burial. While this is a difficult time emotionally, it can also be a significant financial burden with funeral costs alone ranging from $4,000–$14,000 depending on the size and scope of proceedings.1

Funeral insurance and final expenses insurance can help to ensure there will be enough funds available to organise your funeral arrangements the way you would have wished, without creating an extra burden on your family.

Comparing different policies can be a good way to ensure you have the most suitable product for your needs, and help you make the right choice that suits you and your budget.

  1. Paying for your funeral, MoneySmart.

These articles are provided as reference material to allow more informed decision making, but are not intended as being a complete source of information on any topic. All readers should make their own independent analysis on the topic to make sure they have considered the aspects that are important to them.