South Korea

Memento Mori

Acceptance—and grief—has many forms. 

When a loved one dies, we don’t want to imagine what our life will be like without them.

We grasp for whatever we can in order to hold on to them. We cut a lock of their hair, carry photos of them, wear their favorite accessory or article of clothing to feel as though they are still with us. Anything connected to a memory of them we can cling to.

Funerals are a common way for us to gather around and share memories of our loved ones when they pass on, yet they are usually seen as dreary, solemn rites that are a mandatory part of mourning. Our loved ones are colorful and unique individuals who should be celebrated, even as we grieve our loss. So why not send them off in a similar fashion?

Here are some interesting funerary rites for you, your friends, and family members to consider being remembered by.

If you’re interested in helping sustain the environment even after you're gone, there are plenty of ways for you to do so. 

Photo courtesy of ckohtala via Flickr

Photo courtesy of ckohtala via Flickr

Capsula Mundi are egg-shaped pods that encapsulate one’s remains and buried under the ground with a sapling of your choice. The sapling grows from the nutrients provided by the remains and flourishes into a tree. The pods themselves are biodegradable and assist in the sapling’s growth.

But if becoming a tree doesn’t interest you, then how about a coral reef?

Photo courtesy of Richard Lindley via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Richard Lindley via Flickr

In the United States, a company called Eternal Reefs will attach your remains to a reef, helping to stabilize the ecosystem. When you pass, your remains are compressed into a Reef Ball. Reef balls are constructed habitats that prevent ocean hazards from displacing the remains or destroying the coral reefs. This establishes a safe environment for oceanic wildlife to thrive.

Many people have heard of turning corpses into diamonds, but what about something as simple as beads?

In South Korea, many families have their loved ones compressed into an array of colourful beads. These beads are then displayed at home as a reassuring reminder that they are always around. Having such a dense population, South Korea doesn’t have the capacity to bury its dead anymore. As such, a law was established in 2000 that a body can only be buried for 60 years, and then the family has to dig up the remains and find something else to do with them. This is one of the main reasons why South Koreans simply choose to have their loved ones transformed into something more meaningful than just leaving them to rot to begin with.

I’ll admit, the term “fantasy coffin” sounds a little...strange.

But I also have to admit that these bad boys are pretty cool.

In Ghana, these “fantasy coffins” have kicked your standard wooden boxes to the curb. I mean, why get buried in any old casket when you can get one specially designed to look like that 1969 Ford Mustang you’ve always wanted?

Photo courtesy of Regula Tschumi via Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Regula Tschumi via Wikimedia Commons

“Fantasy coffin” maker Joseph Ashong has had all sorts of requests, from seashells to animals to tributes to the deceased’s idol. The purpose of these coffins is to represent something that was important in that person’s life. I personally think it’d be bad-ass to be buried in a pirate ship. For specific communities in Ghana, however, these coffins are extra-special as they believe these are what will take them to their next life, which is why it’s so important to have something that represents them.

Funerals don’t have to be dark and depressing. 

In New Orleans, funeral progressions are often accompanied by a jazz band, filling the streets with music and enticing everyone to dance. These progressions are honestly more like parades celebrating the life of the loved one. In the past, they could last for as long as an entire week.

Personally, I’d like to be cremated or planted with a tree. And while I hope none of you have to prepare for a funeral anytime soon, I hope you found these rites interesting and unique, and that this article reminds you to keep your loved ones close. Never miss a chance to let them know how much you cherish them.


Michelle Bonga

Michelle is a wandering soul. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. She hopes she’s doing something right. She is a great person to talk to; doesn’t talk much herself. If you’re nice, she’ll haunt you forever. Or until she’s bored.

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