7 Surprising Things You Can Do With Your Body After You Die

While we may not like to think about our ending, death is a fundamental part of the life cycle—a touchy subject, but an inevitable one. For most, there are two conventional options—you are either buried or cremated. While these traditional methods are the most accepted, more creative and environmentally-friendly alternatives have emerged. Take a look at some other ways you can memorialize your life on Earth.

1. Become a Diamond

Photograph by Algordanza Memorial Diamond

Honor your precious life and turn your remains into a precious stone. Under high heat and pressure conditions, human ashes can be compressed into diamonds through a chemical process that extracts carbon from remains and converts it into graphite. The exact coloring of the diamond varies from white to blue, depending on the boron content of the ashes.

2. Be Launched Into Outer Space

Companies offer an out-of-this world burial alternative by flying your remains to space. This option shoots for the stars and commemorates the departed from up above. Cremated ashes can be launched into orbit, placed into deep space, and even on the moon.

3. Restore Balance to the Oceans as a Coral Reef

Photography by Eternal Reef

If you have a love for the ocean and its creatures or just want to be one with the sea, this alternative may be the one for you. With the decline of natural coral reefs, companies are now incorporating cremated remains into artificial coral reefs to help restore balance to the oceans. Made out of a natural concrete mold, this reef ball becomes part of habitats for fish and other sea life.

4. Become a Painting

Photography by Adam Brown

A picture is worth a thousand words–and now can be worthy of a life. Painters create one-of-a kind artwork made from remains. Ashes are mixed in with paint pigments, glues, and resins to make a memorial masterpiece.

5. Leave Your Mark as a Tattoo

Photograph by Riya DiCapo with her finished skull tattoo in honor of her father.
Photograph by Riya DiCapo with her finished skull tattoo in honor of her father.

As many tattoos represent something or someone of great significance, your design can be even more personal. Just like painters, tattoo artists can use remains to make a tribute design. The fine ash dust is sterilized and combined with tattoo ink to create a permanent memorial mark.

6. Become the Roots of a Tree


Memorial trees are another creative spin off the traditional urn. These Bio Urns are made using biodegradable cardboard and other materials. The seed is placed in the upper half, where it begins to sprout. Once the roots are strong enough, they grow through the lower part containing the ashes.

7. Nourish the Earth

Photograph by TED
Photograph by TED

With the toxic chemicals used and produced for traditional burials or cremation, Jae Rhim Lee has a greener alternative. A mushroom burial suit makes for an eco-friendly ending. Lee has trained a type of mushroom, dubbed the “infinity mushroom,” that lines the suit and can decompose and purify bodies naturally.

While these alternatives are not as well known or widely accepted as the usual ways of handling life after death, the rising popularity shows a shift in society’s attitude towards death. Find out more about this growing acceptance of our final fate this Sunday at 8/9c on Explorer: Faces of Death.

Watch: 5 Things You Need to Know About DeathMeet five people who choose to live with death every day and want you to face your own mortality head on.


Don’t miss Explorer: Faces of Death Sunday, April 3 at 8/9c followed by The Story of God With Morgan Freeman: Beyond Death at 9/8c on the National Geographic Channel.