[Top o’ the morning to ya, Silverbelles and Silverbacks. Time to give a little thought to your final resting space. Where would you want to spend eternity? Thanks to SB Steve (Post Island SBs) for coming up with this cheerful little gem. SB SM]
The only thing certain about life is death – and one day we’ll all have to think about what’s going to happen to us once we’re gone.
But while most think the only choice is between being buried or cremated, there are lots of bizarre places and ways we could be laid to rest.
Here are some of the imaginative ways people have, willingly or unwillingly, found themselves spending eternity…
Under the sea
As well as being the largest man-made reef in the world, the Neptune Memorial Reef is also a watery grave.
However, it’s what the reef features of made of that really makes it unique – the cremated remains of dead people, mixed with cement.
Families of those buried there can take a boat to the depths, then snorkel down to the site
Other families actually become dive certified to spend as long as they like with their loved ones.
Inside a restaurant
Customers sit next to graves inside the New Lucky Restaurant in Ahmadabad (Image: Barcroft)
People who booked their burial spot at a cemetery in Ahmadabad in western India had no idea they would one day be lying in the middle of a busy fast food restaurant.
Owner Krishnan Kutti had already bought the land where his eatery was to be built when he discovered that it was a cemetery.
Rather than ripping out the graves to make way for his restaurant, owner Krishnan chose to preserve the coffins and place tables around them at the ironically-named New Lucky Restaurant.
Around a dozen graves lay inside the restaurant and have been sealed off by iron grills.
No-one knows for sure who the graves belong too, although locals claim they contain the remains of followers of a 16th-Century Sufi saint, whose tomb lies nearby.
Kutti believes the graves have brought him good luck and says the restaurant now a popular hang-out for both young and old.
He said: “The graveyard brings good luck. Our business has been flourishing because of these graves. It gives people a unique experience.
‘We have maintained the graves as they were. Our customers don’t seem to mind.”
On the side of a cliff
If you fancy hanging around for eternity after your death, then a unique custom practised in the Sagada region of northern Philippines would suit you. In a tradition that dates back thousands of years, members of the Igorot tribe carve their own coffins before they die.
These are then hoisted up on a rope to the sides of cliffs, along with those of their ancestors.
Many of the hanging coffins are hundreds of years old and they all have a unique look and feel since they were made by the person inside of them. One of the most common beliefs behind this practice is that moving the bodies of the dead higher up brings them closer to their ancestral spirits.
And unlike the way we bury the dead in the West, corpses are buried in the fetal position, as the Igorots believe that a person should depart the world in the same way they entered it.
In a work of art
Lovers of postmodernism could have the chance to spend eternity in an award-winning piece of art designed by the great postmodernist architect Aldo Rossi.
Created for a 1971 competition to design a new burial space in Modena, Italy, the San Cataldo Cemetery takes the form of a bright orange cube full of square windows where the dead are to be “filed away”.
The architect conceived the minimalist, symmetrical cemetery as a city where “the private relationship with Death becomes a civil relationship with the Institution”.
Unfortunately Rossi himself died in 1976, and the cemetery, which won a number of design awards, has yet to receive a single body.
In a tourist attraction
Monks in Palermo, Sicily, have been using the cool climate in limestone corridors underneath the city to preserve the bodies of the dead since the 16th century. The eerie Capuchin Catacombs now contain more than 8,000 mummified bodies, the largest collection in the world.
At first intended for dead friars, being entombed there became a status symbol and the local elite and prominent citizens began to purchase their place there.
Open to the public, the bodies are so well preserved even the oldest, dating back to 1599, still have skin and hair on them.
All are dressed in their best clothes, and are hung along the walls in what has become a grim tourist attraction.
One of the bodies is that of Rosalia Lombardo, a two-year-old Sicilian girl who died of pneumonia in 1920.
Devastated by the loss of his two-year-old daughter, Rosalia’s father turned to Alfredo Salafia, a renowned Sicilian professor of chemistry and a talented embalmer to preserve his daughter.
Considered to be one of the best-preserved mummies in the world – for years after her death her skin retained a warm and pink complexion giving her the eerie appearance of sleeping peacefully.
On an airport runway
If you look out the window of your plane while taking off or landing at Georgia’s Savannah Airport, you will see two concrete rectangles sitting askew on runway. They are the headstones of Richard and Catherine Dotson, whose family refused to move them as the airport grew over their graves.
As the airport expansion threatened an historic graveyard, most of the bodies surrounding the Dotson’s were moved. But the surviving Dotson’s refused to give consent to move their graves, believing that Richard and Catherine, who struggled to purchase and maintain the land, would have wanted to stay.
Under a doll’s house
The graveyard outside the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Eklutna, Alaska, shows that cemeteries can be fun places too. The graveyard is filled with more than 100 colorfully painted houses about the size of a doll’s house, a practise which mixes Russian Orthodox tradition and native Alaskan funeral rites.
When someone dies their body is buried and a blanket is placed over the grave.
After the blanket has been there for a while, a little wooden house called a “spirit house”, is placed over the grave, and is painted in the family colors. But unlike more traditional burial sites, the little houses are not kept up or restored, and are simply allowed to disintegrate back into the ground – in fact this decay is part of the tradition.
Inside a tree trunk
The Toraja people of Indonesia ‘bury’ their dead babies inside the trunks of living trees so they can be absorbed by nature.