Are there any alternatives to traditional burial or cremation?

The decision on what is to be done with a body after death is always a sensitive one. In the past, a traditional burial or cremations were the only options available, but with huge pressure on overcrowded church graveyards and cemeteries, many people are looking for other options when planning their funeral.
Whilst a traditional burial is still the most popular option in the UK, the range of alternatives is beginning to grow and range from the practical or environmentally friendly, through to some which are more unusual.
In the UK, a traditional burial means the internment of a body in the ground, either in a churchyard or cemetery. Most cemeteries are non-denominational which means that a range of different religious funeral services can be carried out in them and churchyards, obviously, belong to the denomination of the church they are joined to. It is possible to pre-buy a plot in a cemetery and if someone owns a plot, a Deed of Grant is required to prove this. The price of a plot will vary enormously and depends on the location; it’s important to note that many plots, particularly those in major cities are sold on a lease basis which normally expires after around 75 years, up to a maximum of 100 years.
The plot system in consecrated churchyards is slightly different as anyone who is a parishioner of that church has a right to be buried in the graveyard as long as there is sufficient space available. The right to be buried in a churchyard is also extended to anyone who is on the electoral roll of the parish at the time of their death. Anyone who wishes to be buried in a particular churchyard but doesn’t fit one of these categories has to seek permission of the church authority whose decision will be final. It’s also worth mentioning that some churchyards have restrictions on the size or shape of grave memorials and headstones so it’s important to check before making arrangements.
Cremation now exceeds burials as the most popular option in the UK and current data shows that approximately 70% of all funerals now consist of a cremation. Although this rise has helped to ease the burden on increasingly overcrowded graveyards, many crematoriums in the UK are now incredibly busy, resulting in an impersonal, ‘conveyor-belt’ feel to some cremation ceremonies. The majority of Christian denominations permit cremations, however it is not allowed by Muslims and Orthodox Jews. Cremation is the usual method of body disposal for the Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu religions.
Whilst these are the most usual forms of body disposal in the UK, there are a couple of other options for those who are interested in finding something more unusual. Despite popular belief, it is possible to be buried at home, provided that particular health and safety issues or public health risks are assessed first. There are a number of issues to consider if you’re interested in a home burial, not least a planning permission requirement to change your garden from a garden to a ‘burial ground’ and the potential impact that a grave in your back garden could have on the future sale value of the property.
Another option and one which is still rarely used in the UK, is body donation. Body donation is different to organ donation: organ donation is very simple and millions of people have signed up to the Organ Donor scheme. However body donation is much more complicated and calls for pre-planning before it can be arranged. The ideal option for those for whom creation or burial has no appeal, body donation offers a low-cost, low-fuss solution.

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