Burial or cremation, it all seems a bit old-fashioned. After all, these have been the most used options for saying goodbye to someone for decades. But today the cabinet has decided that a new form of funeral services (because that’s what it’s called) will be added. This is because it is allowed to dissolve the body of a deceased person in a heated liquid. But that is not the only “special” way to enter the afterlife.
Next year, Minister Kajsa Ollongren (Internal Affairs) will come up with a bill to allow alkaline hydrolysis (dissolving dead in liquid). Such a procedure is also called resomation. This is already possible in a few other countries, so soon in the Netherlands.
After the alkaline hydrolysis, bones and a residual liquid remain. The bones can be placed in an urn just like after a cremation. For the residual liquid, for example, giving part to the next of kin, fertilizing fields or producing biogas is considered.
The funeral industry is positive about resomation. “According to the industry, the introduction of new initiatives such as alkaline hydrolysis promotes freedom of choice in choosing an appropriate form of funeral services,” said the minister.
Freeze (and thaw?)
At the moment you can have yourself buried or cremated in the Netherlands, opt for a sailor’s grave or donate your body to science. Yet those are not the only ways to enter the afterlife. There are many more creative funeral services.
Freezing your body may seem like something that only happens in Hollywood blockbusters, but it happens in real life too. It is certainly not cheap, though, but wealthy people sometimes choose this option. They then make plans, while they are still alive, to have themselves frozen after their death. One reason is that in the future a way may have been found to bring the deceased back to life. After all, various insects and small animals do that too, during the winter they “freeze” themselves, only to wake up again in the spring.
Freezing of this kind, also known as cryonism, is neither prohibited nor illegal in the Netherlands. But it is illegal to keep a body for a long time. So if you want to freeze you have to go to America. It will cost you quite a bit: tens to hundreds of thousands of euros. A cheaper option is to just freeze your brain.
Another Hollywood option: not a sailor’s grave but an astronaut’s grave. Ash (of a body) is shot into space, in a small capsule. Because it is rather cold outside Earth’s atmosphere, the capsule eventually detaches and the ashes float freely around. This does not happen often: it has been done ten times in the past twenty years.
The company behind many such astronaut graves is Celestis. They have thought of various wallets: from 2495 dollars (more than 2100 euros) your ashes can be launched into space. However, with that budget it is short-lived. The ashes are only shot out of the earth a little bit, and will therefore return to earth again (with a parachute).
And there are even more options, the most expensive costs 12,500 dollars (more than 10,500 euros). Then the ashes of you or your loved one are shot deep into space. Those remains do not return and keep wandering around in the universe. Not surprisingly, you have to be in the United States for “funerals” like this.
With your death you can also provide new life. That’s a nice idea, sort of ashes to ashes, dust to dust principle. It is not yet possible in the Netherlands, but composting could one day be an option for us. It works like this: the deceased person is placed in a forest, for example, wrapped in a biodegradable material. Then the body is buried under a pack of organic material, after which microorganisms can do their work. This leaves things like bones and prostheses, which are eventually removed from the earth.
After six months, about a cubic meter of compost is created. That’s enough to fertilize 100 trees. It may sound a bit strange, ending up as compost or potting soil, but it will give you new life. Many people also see this as a way to get back to nature. In addition, this is an ecologically responsible option, other than burial or cremation.
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