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In your element: Which would be your funeral choice?

Earth, air, fire or water: is there a particular element that you are drawn to – and could it influence your funeral choice?

The four elements influence the circle of life according to many philosophies, while for followers of astrology, they define the groups to which the 12 houses of the zodiac correspond.

For those who feel attuned to the qualities of a particular element, it could play an equally significant part in the end of life funeral ritual they choose. Funeral choices inspired by earth, air, fire and water, could be a fitting way to remember someone who had a spiritual outlook on life.

Capsula Mundi cover design

Capsula Mundi designers Raoul Bretzel and Anna Citelli via Capsula Mundi

Earth

According to the Zodiac, those born under earth signs are grounded, loyal and nurturing.

Designer duo, Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel have taken the natural burial to a new extreme by developing a concept that turns a loved one into a tree when they are buried.

Capsula Mundi, or Capsule of the World, is an egg-shaped burial pod concept, made from biodegradable materials.

Before the funeral, the person is placed into the pod in a foetal position. When the pod buried, a tree is planted on top of the organic coffin and will use it as a fertiliser for its growth. The idea is for family and friends to continue to care for the tree as it grows.

The designers hope that their burial pods will be approved for use in natural burial grounds, to eventually create beautiful woodland memorial parks. In the meantime, Capsula Mundi have developed smaller capsules to bury cremation ashes in.

Dry ice smoke Photo by Luke Belsey via Unsplash

Air

Air is said to represent the power of the mind and intellect.

If you’ve ever wondered what the world will be like in 100 years, cryogenic freezing is a potential way for you to find out.Some people choose for this in the hope that a terminal illness may be cured in the future.

When someone dies, their body is cooled with liquid nitrogen and their blood is replaced with various cryoprotectant fluids to prevent ice crystals forming and destroy the body’s cells. Their body is then gradually cooled further, until it reaches -196 degrees Celsius, a temperature that will be maintained until the person’s hoped-for awakening.

Freezing-cold liquid nitrogen is also being used to pioneer a new, not-yet-available form of cremation, called Cryomation or Promession. This green burial process involves the body being frozen until it is brittle, at which point it fragments and the person’s remains are freeze-dried.

The aim is for a tree to be planted when the sterile ‘ash’ is buried and the scientists behind this alternative burial say it’s an environmentally-friendly way for someone’s body to return to nature.

Another alternative option for those unsure about burial or cremation is to be interred in a vault or crypt above the earth. In Brazil’s Memorial Necropole Ecumenica, there are thousands of burial vaults in a necropolis reaching 32 storeys into the sky.

Water and bubbles Photo by Carlos Dominguez via Unsplash

Water

A source of life, water is said to symbolise purity, fertility and circulation.

Resomation, or alkaline hydrolysis, is a water-based cremation which is inspired by the way nature returns a body to the earth when it is buried.

The resomation process, which takes approximately three to four hours, uses a water-based solution to return our bodies, which are made up of around 60 per cent water,into their basic building blocks. This eventually leaves a sterile and pure white ‘ash’ that’s actually very fine particles of bone.

Water cremation results in slightly more ash than flame cremation and the remains can be stored in an urn, or interred in the ground or a vault.

Over two and a half thousand green cremations have already taken place in the United States.

Fire Photo by Chinh Le Duc via Unsplash

Fire

According to many spiritual beliefs, the soul must pass through cleansing fire in order for it to be released from its mortal shell and purified for reincarnation.

The first legal cremation in the UK took place in 1885 and is now the funeral choice of three quarters of people today.

Cremation offers many possibilities when it comes to memorialisation, with many options available when it comes to scattering, or keeping, someone’s funeral ashes in a meaningful way.

  • And Vinyly presses cremation ashes into a vinyl record complete with audio of your loved one’s voice or favourite music.

  • If you’re drawn to more than one element, your cremation ashes can be formed into can become a memorial artificial reef under the sea.

  • Heart in Diamond is a UK-based company that transforms cremation ashes into a diamond.

  • Cremation ashes can also be incorporated into a unique celebration of life ceremony, from a Viking-style funeral to the focal point of a dazzling ashes-into-fireworks display.

Be inspired by these creative funeral ideas and discover the top five places for scattering ashes.

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