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Hanging Around - Five Novel Ways to Live on After Death
By T Roberts

Think of death and you'll likely automatically conjure up images of a church service culminating with a wooden coffin being lowered into its designated plot alongside an intricate headstone.

Or maybe you think of some of the alternative methods available nowadays, such as natural burial (also known as green burial), an eco-friendly practice which sees the deceased placed into a relatively shallow grave without having gone through the usual embalming process so as not to inhibit decomposition. The body is usually housed in a shroud or biodegradable coffin rather than a wooden casket for similar reasons.

But for the person who wants a more unusual way to live on after death, there are a number of increasingly weird and wonderful options on the horizon. Read on for five of the more unusual alternatives:

Dedicated doodler
Designer Nadine Jarvis suggested a unique way for a loved one to remain useful after passing away - by agreeing to have the carbon from their cremated remains used to help create a lifetime supply of pencils. Her proposal sees 240 pencils -each foil stamped with the name of the deceased - encased in a commemorative box which also houses a sharpener. As the pencils are used, the sharpenings begin to fill the space left behind, gradually turning the box into an urn.

The birds' best friend
Another of Jarvis' creations is a bird feeder made from a combination of bird food, beeswax and human ash. As the birds take to pecking away at the feeder, the urn slowly disintegrates - eventually leaving behind an inscribed wooden perch featuring memorial details of the person in question.

Don't lose your sparkle
UK-based company LifeGem offers to take the carbon from a loved one's cremated remains and use it to create a diamond for use in jewellery. And its not limited to humans - LifeGem's website even has a section dedicated to fashioning stones from the remains of beloved pets. The diamonds don't come cheap but as far as bling goes they do offer something undeniably unique.

Sleep with the fishes
We've all heard of burial at sea, but Eternal Reefs of the USA has been providing a different marine-based resting place since 1998. The company provides a service whereby the deceased's remains are mixed with concrete to provide a memorial reef which is placed in the water, providing a new marine habitat for fish and other sea life going forward.

Remain in charge
Designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau have created the Afterlife concept, which sees a custom-made coffin fitted with a microbial fuel cell to create electricity using the acids released by the human body as it decomposes. The charge is then used to fuel a memorial dry cell battery for use in an apt appliance.

But don't worry if none of this takes your fancy, you can still go with a traditional funeral and headstone.


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