Going out in style: Funeral planning for 2013
Think outside the box. If you don’t care either way — well, you are dead — you can get a basic container, an eco-friendly fiberboard shell with no exterior or interior finish, for about $400. Visiting a local casket retailer or online wholesaler may be cheaper than buying from the funeral home.
Casket Outlet in Mississauga, for example will ship a casket to your Canadian funeral home for free and prices range from $490 to $2,780.
But if you’re looking for something a little nicer for your eternal sleep, The Golden Casket bills itself as “the most luxurious casket in the world” and costs between US$17,500 and $34,500 as a starting price. “It’s a beautiful combination of maple cherry wood and intricate carvings entirely gilded in double thickness 24-carat gold,” says Justin Wessels, co-owner of The Golden Casket which is based in Connecticut and ships caskets around the world. “It’s definitely for the more discerning buyer or for people who have appreciated art or fine art in their lives.”
If you want your final display case to be more unique, get creative. U.K.-based Crazy Coffins has custom-built caskets in the likeness of everything from ballet shoes and skateboards to a Rolls Royce and a Nokia cellphone. They’re currently building a six-foot-long replica of a Jack Daniels whiskey bottle for about US$4,000, not including shipping, for a gentleman who is alive and, presumably somewhere enjoying an alcoholic beverage.
For a sleek, futuristic style, German coffin makers, UONO coffins, are planning to bring the Cocoon to Canada early next year; the price has yet to be determined. “Baby Boomers tend to want personalization, services that are unique,” says Daniel Isard, a Phoenix-based consultant for UONO. “This casket certainly presents itself as being something very few people have seen.”
The pill-shaped shiny box made of bio-degradable materials comes in many colours from cobalt blue to wine red.
Get hot and…ashy. A traditional burial can start at about $5,000, says Canadian Funerals Online while a simple cremation starts at about $600. This is one of the reasons why more people are opting to be cremated. You could send your ashes into space (starting at US$995 through Celestis) or load them into fireworks shells and light up the sky (Angels Flight in L.A. performs beach services starting at $4,250). To stay closer to home, find a lovely urn and hang out on a mantle. To add some character to your container, keep time inside an hourglass (In The Light Urns’s online store, $399.95 not including shipping) or live in an urn shaped like a golf bag ($509.00 at Evrmemories.com).
Turn yourself into bling. Take Rihanna’s lyrics — “Shine bright like a diamond” — literally.
Rene de Diego’s Remembrance Diamonds Corp. will transform your ashes into a diamond. “It’s a way that people can keep loved ones close to them,” says Mr. de Diego who is based in Vancouver. “The mobile memorial, a memorial that you can take with you, is a big draw for people. People spend lots of money on funerals these days but they don’t often come away with something.”
When you’re cremated, it produces an average of two kilograms of ash. Five-hundred grams of ash can make as many as four diamonds. Remembrance Diamonds facilitates the shipment of the ashes from the funeral home to Switzerland for processing.
You may specify the cut and the prices vary per size; a 0.25 carat diamond is $3,899 while a 1-carat gem is $21,599.
Weigh down paper or hold a candle. Skytree Smith of Elemental Glassworks incorporates cremated remains into blown glass designs so that they “become part of a beautiful object,” she says. The costs range from $85-$150 for jewellery, tea light holders, ornaments and paperweights.
Get fingerprinted. Eternity’s Touch will immortalize your fingerprint on a sterling silver or white gold pendant or a set of cufflinks or a picture frame. Within 48 hours of capturing the fingerprint, the company based in Wallaceburg, Ont., will have the keepsake at the funeral home. The products run from $25-$700. “Fingerprints are the only thing next to a picture that make us different from everyone else,” says Steve Tamblyn, co-owner of Eternity’s Touch. “[One customer], her father was a brick layer. She said she could remember that her father would hug her and he had rough hands. When she felt the fingerprint, it brought her right back to her childhood. It’s not just an image. It’s cut right into the metal.”
Preserve your DNA. DNA Memorial will preserve your DNA and use it in a substance to create a painting (between $200 to $500) or put inside of a pendant ($200-$400). “Saving their DNA is saving everything about that person. Every single thing that made them who they are is in their blueprint,” says Ryan Lehto of DNA Memorial. “You save that and you save all of your medical information. You can trace your ancestry.”
The Thunder Bay, Ont.-based company will also put your DNA into a tree seedling to plant which costs $300. “We call that our living memorial.”
Chill out. Have yourself cryogenically frozen so superior future beings can cure what ails you. Alcor Life Extension Foundation charges a minimum of $200,000 for whole body cryopreservation and $80,000 to preserve your brain .
Build yourself a monument. For a basic, small granite headstone, it might cost $2,000. But a monument (which you deserve) could cost tens of thousands for an elaborate statue.
“It’s noticed by people who are surveying the landscape of a cemetery; they’ll say, ‘Oh look at that,’” says Rick Cowan, an assistant vice-president at Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries. “You’ll walk through cemeteries and see these lovely old obelisks that tower above everybody else.”
People are dying for good real estate in cemeteries. To purchase an adult grave outside of Toronto might start at about $1,900. But in the city, you’ll pay a premium — prices start from $11,000. A crypt in a temperature-controlled mausoleum starts at $15,500. A glass-fronted niche to display your urn and other beloved paraphernalia, your toupee, your Troll collection, etc. starts at $1,985.
If you can afford it, you can get a private family mausoleum for $500,000, Mr. Cowan adds. Sleep with the fishes. Sea burials are tricky. You need to publish a letter of intent in a local newspaper. You’ll need a special permit and the application fee is $2,500. You don’t want your casket trawled up by a fishing vessel; so you’ll also need to be a certain distance from land and in a casket that meets certain specifications. It might be cheaper to just buy a plot at the Neptune Memorial Reef, an underwater cemetery off the coast of Miami Beach for US$1,000 to US$,6000.