6 quirky final farewells — how to say goodbye memorably

One day it will be time to depart this unique and wonderful life you’re having, and if you’d like to end on a high note, then read Margaret McKay's best suggestions to ensure you have a funeral that those attending won’t forget.

By Margaret McKay

Planning a quirky and interesting end-of-life celebration

There’s an increasing move away from the traditional sad farewell-type funeral service.

Instead, pre-planned funerals are increasingly including a person’s last wishes for a party or a distinctively memorable celebration of their life. There's also a trend towards direct cremations for a no-fuss end-of-life celebration that can be personalised.

Citro has curated some out-of-the-box ideas, not literally of course, because Health Department rules mostly require you have one (a coffin box, that is).

You might also want to read about donating your body or organs to science.

Be wary of public health laws

Final departure has become a little more relaxed these days, and the dearly departed may now be sent off in a bamboo, willow, cardboard, wicker, seagrass or even a felted woollen coffin.

It's always best to check with your state or territory health requirements, and with your selected funeral home to confirm the rules that apply before you craft your final wishes.

Often, if you want to be buried in a shroud instead of a coffin - or buried under a tree on private land - then an application needs to be made to the health department and strict conditions can be put in place.

Inspired farewell #1: Go lean and green

Eco funerals are gaining popularity in Australia. Each state and territory offers natural burial grounds, and several funeral companies will be quick to suggest their environment friendly options.

For example, Bare cremations uses only cardboard coffins, to reduce the environmental impact. They also offer their Bare Memorial funeral service where there is no coffin present.

Founded in 2019, Bare was started by a couple of Aussies who saw the need for funerals that were lighter on the pocket and softer on the environment. Their enormous success has led other funeral service providers to follow their lead.

Inspired farewell #2: Creative fun for everyone

Cardboard coffins are a perfect canvas for those at the memorial service to leave their personal artwork, loving message, or some special memory they have.

Marker pens, glitter, glue, photos, dried flowers, and practically anything under the sun that will incinerate is perfect.

Or you can hire an artist to create a unique artwork on your special person’s casket, such as Dharawal man, Gregory Andrews at Tender Funerals in Canberra, who will apply a traditional dot work.

How about a little DIY? Jill Warwick made her own coffin through her local Community Shed, and then her family helped with the decorating. It had nothing to do with any expectation of Jill’s imminent demise, but was simply to save her family the ultimate financial burden of the cost of a coffin.

Jill said they laughed themselves silly while decorating her final home. “They’d turn down invitations and tell friends they couldn’t go out because they were painting Mum’s coffin.”

It sounded like a sip and paint class, and as Jill said, “My family and I had many laughs while we painted it. One of the best things was that it forced us to be honest about how we all felt.”

Inspired farewell #3: Gone with the wind - a drone scattering

If you have a rural property or similar extensive area where you would like your ashes to rest, then scattering by drone is a perfect solution.

You may need to obtain approval from a local council if you wish to scatter on a beach or other public area. Check the rules in your state or territory.

Several Australian companies now offer this service, including Bare, and Drone Commander Australia, and they can help you decide whether you need any approvals.

Inspired farewell #4: Get to space - the final frontier

You may not twinkle twinkle like a little star, but you will be up above the world so high.

For around AU$5000, your ashes can be delivered to outer space via Memorial Spaceflights rocket ship. Located in the USA, your ashes would need to be mailed from Australia – that part seems fairly straightforward.

The folks at Celestis will help with all the other details. Beam me up, Scotty!

Inspired farewell #5: Sending you sky-high

If that’s a bit too out-there for you, maybe having your ashes scattered from the sky as part of a beautiful and fun fireworks display appeals.

Australian pyrotechnics company Ashes to Ashes will make sure you go off with a bang, and the kids will love it.

Inspired farewell #6: Become the diamond that you are

Do you fancy being worn as jewellery by your closest loved one, and being passed down through the generations?

Ashes are placed under high pressure and high temperature to mimic natural conditions for diamond or gemstone formation.

As a diamond, you will have a bluish hue due to the presence of boron in the ashes of your bones, or different oxides can be added to make you into a ruby, sapphire or emerald.

The rough gemstone produced is then cut and polished and certified by an independent laboratory to verify its authenticity and quality.

Shop around, as there are several Swiss and American companies offering the service, with representatives in Australia.

Here are a few to check out: Lonité, Algordanza, and Heart in Diamond.

The process will cost a few thousand dollars.

You only die once (apparently) so you might as well get it right and have fun planning your departure.

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