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Space - the final resting place?

At first glance, having your ashes interred by a tree may seem like a strange idea.

This content was published on February 7, 2003 - 10:24

However, there are a raft of stranger and more colourful ways of storing human ashes.

One alternative to the urn would be shooting remains into the moon's orbit or into space.

This option, offered by the United States business Celestis, does not come cheap, though, with a price-tag of $12,500 (SFr16,870).

Celestis can also launch a capsule containing ashes into the earth's orbit, which will turn into a glowing "memorial satellite" on its re-entry into the earth's atmosphere.

Meanwhile, another company, Eternal Reef, offers to scatter your ashes into the fundament of a coral reef, complete with memorial plaque, guaranteed to last for 500 years.

But topping the bizarre list is the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

It has been freezing corpses in liquid nitrogen since the 1970s, in the hope that future advances in medicine will enable resuscitation.

Church talks

In certain parts of the world, it has traditionally been the church that supervises burial rites.

So how do the ecclesiastical authorities view the latest fads?

The Reverend Andreas Boller can understand the desire for a tree-side burial and is even willing to conduct such services.

He sees it as a manifestation of humans' natural sensitivity towards nature and their need to break away from strict norms.

For such people, a tree is a symbol for existence and departure; with the ashes, one has the feeling that something is returned to nature.

Boller has nothing against such burials, as long as they are conducted in an appropriate fashion.

In his experience, only a tiny proportion of people feel the need to be sent off in a spectacular fashion or to have their remains preserved in an effort to achieve immortality.

swissinfo, based on an article previously published by NZZ

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