Karen Jones  Answers Your Questions About Death- and Everything That Comes After 


1. What is the least expensive casket? A pine box, of course! Chapter Four of Death for Beginners has all of your choices including information about alternative and green caskets.

2. Can I be buried under a tree on my parent’s farm without a big old coffin? Absolutely! This is called home burial. You will need special permits and some localities have specific requirements. Find out how to obtain these and plan a home burial in Chapter Two.

3. What is the cheapest way to go? It’s the “bada boom bada bing” method of direct disposition where the body goes directly to the cemetery or crematorium without any rites or ceremonies. Chapter One has all of the pros and cons.

4. Do I need permission to scatter ashes? In some cases, yes, but in most cases no. Do your best research, get permission from the landowners, and as Jiminy Cricket says, “Let your conscience be your guide.” Chapter Three has the details.

5. Can I donate my body and still have a funeral? Yes and no. For full body donation, medical schools will sometimes return the remains, but body farms will not. With organ donation you certainly can have a funeral. All of your options are explained in Chapter One.

6. Can I please both my religious relatives and my fun-loving friends with my service? Yes. It is acceptable to have a mix and match service and reception. Plans for this are in Chapter Five.

7. How can I have my body buried at sea? You will need a special marine shroud and perhaps the services of a maritime funeral director. Specifics can be found in Chapter Two along with a picture of a sea casket.

8. Do I have to use a funeral director or funeral home? Some states require the use of a funeral director and some do not. Chapter Four tells you how to determine your state requirements.

9. Do I have to have all that body preparation done at the funeral home or even at all? No. You have many choices which include care by the family. You can find resources for after-death home care in Chapter Two.

10. How do I travel with cremation ashes? Carefully and that’s no joke. Some airlines will not let you check ashes in your baggage, and the scanning machine will have to be able to see through the container for carry on. TSA information and suggestions are in Chapter Four.

11. Do I have to have people look at me after I’m dead? No you don’t. When you plan your celebration and service you can exclude the visitation. Chapter Five explains your options.

12. How can I have a green burial? You need to find a green or natural burial site and have your remains placed in a green casket or your ashes in a biodegradable urn. Chapters Two and Three give the requirements.

13. What can I have carved on my grave marker? Almost anything as long as the cemetery approves. Chapter Six gives you all of the questions you need to ask and some alternatives if you don’t like the answers.

14. Do I have to have a will? Yes. It saves money and hassle and besides, do you really want your cousin, who never approved of your lifestyle, to inherit your estate? Information about the types of wills and how to start planning are in Chapter Seven.