Five unusual funeral and cremation trends

Clare Aspin / 04 February 2015

A survey by Saga has shown that a quarter of over 50s would like an unusual send off.

Around 16% would opt for a coffin made of alternative materials, including cardboard, and 4% would like a fancy-dress themed funeral.

For those wishing to be cremated, over a third said they wanted their ashes scattered on a football ground, landmark or favourite location.

If you are considering an unusual funeral, check out these five weird and wonderful funeral trends from around the world.

1 Ditch the coffin and mingle with your mourners

The trend of extreme embalming, where corpses are posed in life-like positions at their wakes, is starting to spread across the US.

Last April, New Orleans socialite Mickey Easterling ‘attended’ her wake dressed in a fluorescent pink feather boa with a glass of champagne in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

Earlier that year, the late boxer Christopher Rivera was displayed propped up in a fake boxing ring during his wake in Puerto Rico.

2. Go out with a bang

From a simple self-fired rocket to an elaborate display with colour themes and backing music, there are several companies that will collect ashes and incorporate them into fireworks so you can go out in style.

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3. Drive Thru funerals

A mortuary in Los Angeles offers mourners the chance to pay their respects without leaving their car.

The Robert L Adams Mortuary in Los Angeles is believed to have grown in popularity when gang violence was rife in the Compton area. Gang members were reluctant to attend funerals for fear of being targeted by rival gangs, so the ability to drive past the corpse, which was displayed behind bullet-proof glass, was seen as a safer option than a traditional ceremony.

4. Share the event on social media

Labour MP Diane Abbott came under fire when she live-tweeted a running commentary of Tony Benn’s funeral to her 63,000 followers. Her Tweets provoked angry responses with Twitter users branding her “vile” and “disrespectful”.

However, when a friend provided Twitter updates of publicist Michael O’Connor Clarke’s funeral, Clarke’s family were full of praise as it allowed relatives from overseas to share the event.

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5. Ultimate recycling

Tributes made from cremated ashes are becoming popular. Known as ‘cremorials’, ashes can be used in sculptures, pressed into vinyl records, mixed with paint to create a piece of art or even turned into a diamond.

Whatever you decide, it is important to let your loved ones know your wishes. It is also important to think about how and who will pay for your funeral, as the average cost in the UK is £3,950.

Many people take out life insurance policies to cover funeral expenses. Saga has teamed up with Golden Charter, the UK’s largest independent funeral plan provider, to enable its customers  to use the proceeds of their Guaranteed Life Insurance plan towards funeral costs.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.