What is the Future of Cemeteries?

May 31, 2021

In certain ways, the cemetery business has remained unchanged over the past decade. Professionals work to provide a necessary service, and administrators rely on cemetery insurance to pay for occasional loss and damages. As many cemeteries run out of room, however, business as usual may take on a completely different meaning. While some owners take steps to maximize their existing space, others are thinking outside the box for sustainability options. What is the future of cemeteries? The answer may lie above rather than below the ground.

Rent a Niche

Renting a grave is unheard-of in the U.S., but people have buried and exhumed their loved ones for centuries in some European countries. Even families rich enough to bury their dead inside a church during the Middle Ages later moved their remains to communal graves in a charnel house. Today, residents of Greece and Spain rent aboveground niches as places for bodies to decay. After three years, the family removes the bones, places them in a small box, and buries them in a grave with others from the community. Other countries with similar practices include Portugal and England, and recently even Canada.

Build a Skyscraper

In areas with little space available below ground, some forward-thinking cemetery engineers have begun instead to bury bodies in the sky. Families first cremate the bodies, then store them in a small vault outside of which they can gather to pay their respects. Currently, the 14-story Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica cemetery skyscraper in São Paulo, Brazil is the tallest of its kind. However, in the works is Taiwan’s True Dragon Tower, which will span 20 stories and house the remains of 400,000 people.

Float a Boat

Burial at sea is a longstanding tradition among sailors, but it usually consists of placing a dead body in water rather than storing it on a boat. Recently, however, various architects have fleshed out the idea of a floating cemetery into some very novel designs. The most famous is Hong Kong’s Floating Eternity, which would allow families either to sprinkle ashes from the side or store them in an onboard columbarium. Because housing the dead offshore is not yet widely available, at this point your insurance agent might be uncertain whether you need marine or cemetery insurance.

Blast Into Space

The most technologically advanced option for cemeteries of the future is to send human remains into space. Elysium Space, Inc. offers customers the option of either depositing their loved one’s remains on the moon or launching them into space and allowing them to reenter earth’s atmosphere as a shooting star. While this type of burial is costly in terms of its carbon footprint, it is economically affordable for families and definitely saves space here on earth.

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