Here’s the complete list of everything you can do with your body after you die

If you’re not already thinking about dying, you should totally consider it.

Well, maybe not the dying part, since that’s inevitable; more specifically, you should think about how you are going to arrange your affairs for when the inevitable comes.

So what is going to happen to your body? Let’s find out about what can happen, and then you can start planning to make it happen.

Here’s the complete list of everything you can do with your body after you die

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A sciency-spacesuit man contemplates body donation

You can donate your body to science for use in medical education, scientific research, organ donation to save and improve lives, and more.

With body donation you know that your body will be used to benefit others. At the same time, you will save on funeral costs because the facility will return your cremated remains to your family at no cost.

Here are some of the ways you can donate your body:

For more information: How to Donate Your Body to Science


Many different options for preserving your body after you die

Family and friends often want to say one last goodbye. So most often the professionals prepare your body in some way to look as best as possible for viewing. This also keeps the natural decay to a minimum in the time between death and final disposition.

There are several different ways to do this:

  • Refrigeration, keeping the body cool to slow down the decay process
  • Ice or dry ice, same idea as above for when refrigeration space is not available
  • Embalming, with chemical injected into the body to replace fluids
  • Eco-embalming with what amounts to essential oils
  • Plastination, with plastics replacing the body’s water and fat

And then there is the opposite, in which the body is not preserved at all. Here are several choices:

  • Direct cremation, in which the body is cremated right away (one of the lowest-cost options)
  • Burial/funeral immediately or within a few days
  • Funeral and then cremation within a few days


Burial After Death

From the traditional to the minimalist to the ostentatious, there are lots of ways your body can be buried. Including:


Alternatives to ground burial of your body after death

Not everyone wants to be buried in a box in a cemetery. Here are some of the common and not-so-common things you can do with your body after you die:


Get Made into Mementos & Memorials Like This Glass Hummingbird After You Die

If you get cremated, you can use your ashes to be made into:



A hand casting cremated ashes - one of many things your body can do

Read our guide to scattering ashes for more information on different ways to do this.

  • At a favorite hiking spot
  • From a helicopter
  • From a drone
  • In the ocean
  • In a lake, pond, river, or stream
  • Raked into your garden
  • Trenching, ideal for the beach
  • Sent into the stratosphere in a balloon
  • Launched into outer space

That’s pretty much the complete list of everything you can do with your body after you die. Care to share your preference? Or any clever variations on a theme noted above?

Or did we – gasp! – miss something?! Let us know in the comments below!

The complete list of everything your body can do after death

Ok, all right, fine, would you like it all in one place? Here is the complete list of over sixty options for handy reference.

Everything you can do with your body after you die

  • Body donation at a university
  • A body farm for forensic anthropology research
  • The Mayo Clinic
  • Organ and tissue donation
  • Plastination
  • Refrigeration
  • Temporarily preserved with ice or dry ice
  • Embalming
  • Eco-embalming
  • Direct cremation
  • Burial/funeral immediately
  • Burial/funeral within a few days
  • Funeral and then cremation within a few days
  • Casket (wood, metal, stone)
  • Eco-friendly woven willow casket (“green” burial)
  • Burial shroud or blanket
  • Stone crypt
  • Mausoleum
  • Sewn into a mushroom suit
  • Sea burial
  • Composted in a facility designed for bodies
  • Buried in a pod that grows a tree
  • Cremation
  • Alkaline hydrolysis, aka resomation
  • Cryogenics
  • Buried in a “green cemetery”
  • Plant your ashes to grow into a tree
  • Freeze-dried, vibrated into dust, and used as flower fertilizer
  • Mummification
  • Viking sendoff
  • Burned in an open-air pyre
  • Tibetan sky burial or Zoroastrian “towers of silence.”
  • Placed in a Balinese-style burial tree
  • Ashes made into a diamond
  • A vinyl record made from ashes
  • Remains made into jewelry
  • Ashes made into glass sculptures
  • Photo frame made from ashes
  • Ashes in shotgun shells
  • Ashes in fireworks
  • Remains in an underwater reef
  • Mix ashes into paint
  • Mix ashes into ink for tattoos
  • 3D wood inlay urns
  • Urn engraved with your photo
  • Hourglass urn
  • Urn that can be used as a birdhouse after scattering
  • Clock urns
  • Tealight candle urn
  • Fingerprint engraved urn to hold a tiny amount of ashes
  • Urns made from traditional materials like wood, ceramic, metal, stone
  • Urns made from alternative materials like paper, plastic, salt, cornstarch, sand, gelatin
  • Create just about any urn shape using a 3D printer
  • Inexpensive urns at Amazon, Alibaba, other online marketplaces
  • Handmade urns from Etsy and small artisans online or locally
  • Scatter ashes from, with, or at:
    • A favorite hiking spot
    • A helicopter
    • A drone
    • The ocean
    • Lakes, ponds, rivers, streams
    • Raked into your garden
    • Trenching
    • Sent up in a balloon
    • Launched into space

Read Next: What is Exploding Casket Syndrome

Photo of author


Daniel Szczesniak

Daniel has been working in the funeral industry since 2010, speaking directly to grieving families as they made funeral arrangements. He began researching and publishing funeral articles on this website as part of his role as product and marketing manager...

21 thoughts on “Here’s the complete list of everything you can do with your body after you die”

  1. There are several companies which provide this service by incorporating the remains into fireworks. Check the link in the article for one good one!

  2. Thank you for this article…it gives a person a broader scope to start with, & then narrow down by cost, and legal allowance, per location..
    I like had no idea, about that many options available ??; once l find out what’s allowable in certain states, and cost of certain choices, l will be able to talk with family, and set up a written request, for 1, 2, or 3 options for flexibility, & to hopefully ease the hassle for family.?

  3. I was thinking about donating my brain to a friend to store in a jar of formaldehyde. Not sure what this would involve though – I can’t afford a private surgeon to take it out, and I think there may be a law preventing her from ‘harvesting’ it herself. I’m not too serious about the idea, of course, but it did got me thinking… where does our ownership of our bodies end to be overruled by laws? Even assisted suicide is murder.
    (I promise I am okay – very healthy and happy to be alive, just the philosophical type :P)

  4. Can I be taxidermy? Isn’t this a neat idea for a person to be able to make the decision on what you want when you die or family. I want to be able to cuddle (nothing more) my husband after he dies the way we cuddle every night. or wife. But making humane decision and contiouse dedecision you not only need to make sure its legal but possible, and that all laws are upheld in full. I think it should be what ever you prefer have happen as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

  5. Is it possible to be preserved in glass? I want to be preserved in glass so that I can be placed in a pond without my body decomposing.

  6. Hi Asa,

    I’m not aware of any option for preserving a whole body in glass. Cremated ashes can be infused in glass, but a non-cremated body will eventually decompose unless frozen.

  7. I am already an organ donor,but how do I get to choose a University Hospital to do this.I would like it to be The Ohio State University.

  8. Hi Pat,

    From my understanding, you can’t request that your body go to a specific place or specific study. However, you might try to contact the appropriate department at the Ohio State University and see if they can help arrange it.

  9. Wow, so many choices. Much like birth, dying is almost cost prohibitive. Since there’s really no avoiding this faze of your life, you might as well give it thought. Donation to university for study is the free option. Once your body is of no use to the university, you are cremated and your ashes are sent to your loved one. I love this option because it seems really straightforward and appears to have little or no cost to your loved ones. Coping with the death of a loved one is challenging, add in the expenses, and it can almost be too much.

  10. I love the taxidermist idea. Your loved one will live forever. But after 1 or 2 generations nobody will want you still sitting on the living room couch. Then they have to do something with the body 🤔🤔🤔🤔

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