Living forever may not be an option, but creating something that lives on after we die is a rapidly growing trend.
In 2015, cremations officially overtook burials as Australia’s most preferred method of being memorialised, but an urn sitting atop a family’s fireplace is not what everyone has in mind.
British company And Vinyly is offering families the chance to commemorate their loved ones by having their ashes pressed into a vinyl record.
The idea for the process began when the company’s founder, Jason Leach, had his own grandfather’s ashes blown away while trying to scatter his remains at sea.
Mr. Leach decided that he wanted to leave something of himself for future generations, and decided pressing his ashes into a vinyl record would be the perfect way to complement his legacy.
In a radio interview with the BBC, Mr. Leach described the process of creating the record and how the dearly departed’s presence within the vinyl can affect the sound.
“Some people misunderstand and think that the whole record is made from the ash, but it’s not at all. An amount is put in at a certain stage in the pressing. You put in enough that it’s clearly visible, but not so much that you can’t play the record,” Mr. Leach told the BBC.
“Ash in the record will always run the risk of affecting the audio quality, but obviously with this, you don’t mind a bit of a pop and crackle. It’s just the needle rubbing against (your loved one’s) involvement in the record.”
Families have chosen a wide variety of audio to commemorate their loved ones.
Favourite songs and voice recordings of the deceased are popular choices, while others opt for the record to play sounds from places that their family member may have loved or spent a significant amount of time.
Mr. Leach believes that one of the best vinyl’s he has ever produced was from a man who had been keeping his beloved mother’s ashes in an urn under the stairwell at his home for 20 years.
Unbelievably, this gentleman had the foresight to record his mother talking and answering questions about her life almost two decades prior, and this process allowed those words to be brought to life in more ways than one.
“I don’t think that we will ever make a better one,” Mr. Leach told the BBC.
The Changing Faces of Resting Places
While the confines of a vinyl record may seem like a pretty obscure place to spend eternity, there has been a definite shift in mentality when it comes to burial options and commemorating the death of a loved one.
Environmentally-sound burials have become increasingly popular and involve forgoing the embalming process and using shrouds or biodegradable materials like wicker to ensure that the deceased is considered a green-thumb in the after-life.
Some people are even making the decision to be buried in an upright position to avoid wasting space, as it’s clear that the need for extra leg-room is probably not needed.
Aquamation is another process developed for its environmental benefits. It involves dissolving the body in a mixture of water and chemicals and then crushing the skeleton. Aquamation only uses 5-10% of the energy of cremation.
The growing number of ways in which people’s ashes are being used to commemorate the dead is mind-boggling.
Pottery, vinyl records, fireworks, and jewellery – including diamonds, are just some of the items that cremated remains can be turned into, while some choose to mix the ashes with ink to make a tattoo of their loved one even more special.
Families are also choosing to scatter the ashes of a loved in a variety of locations including concerts, football grounds, forests, and even outer space.
Despite death still being treated as a taboo subject here in Australia, the fact the range of burial and memorial options continues to grow may suggest people are starting to feel more comfortable discussing the inevitable.
The desire to be creative is one of the deepest desires of the soul, so it makes sense that more people are choosing to honour the lives of loved ones in creative and interesting ways.
And why would anyone want to leave quietly, when they have the option to sing their own swan-song?