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Concerned About Purchasing Cemetery Space In A Growing City? What Are Some Innovative Burial Options?

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If a friend or relative's recent death has you contemplating your own final wishes, you may be wondering whether you'll be able to afford space in your local cemetery when the time comes. With many urban areas in the U.S. far outpacing the rest of the country when it comes to population growth, cemeteries in these locations are becoming more and more crowded -- and when space is at a premium, prices can rise. Fortunately, many cities are coming up with innovative ways to help handle increased demand for cemetery space. Read on to learn more about some advances in cemetery technology that may be coming to an area near you soon, as well as some creative options that can help keep your legacy alive.

What are some burial options designed for urban areas?

Although the largest cities in the U.S. can sometimes seem impossibly crowded, the population density of these cities often doesn't hold a candle to that of other locations around the world. One city in Israel is combating this population growth by designing a "skyward cemetery" that will help create stackable graves in a green and aesthetically-pleasing tower. These structures can come in a number of designs and capacities and are likely to begin popping up in many urban areas due to their small footprint and minimal wasted space. As a bonus, skyward cemeteries are ideal locations to grow plants and flowers especially good at helping clean city air.

In Mexico City, the idea of a vertical cemetery takes another direction as a vertical buried cemetery reaches deep into the ground. One advantage to this buried cemetery is its ability to expand -- as spaces around the perimeter of the cemetery begin to fill, the vertical cemetery can be dug deeper (or wider) to create even more space without expanding the footprint. These burial spaces are relatively inexpensive to dig out and should be a good option for those looking for a burial on a budget.

Other areas have gone headstone-free entirely, replacing these headstones with global positioning system (GPS) devices that can help lead you to your loved one's burial site through an app on your smartphone or hand-held unit provided by the cemetery. This can allow you to mark your loved one's grave with flowers or a special plant, but without shelling out the money for a headstone or taking up valuable surface space.

What are some other burial options that can help minimize your costs?

If you'd like a more natural burial, you may want to consider purchasing a plot in a "green" cemetery. These cemeteries don't permit the use of embalming or other body preservation techniques and will only accept caskets made of biodegradable materials, like wicker or untreated wood. Over time, your body and casket will decompose, enriching the earth and allowing others to later be buried in the same space you once occupied. As urban areas continue to expand, it's likely that more and more cities will switch to the green cemetery model.

Another option is to donate your body for use in forensic research by being placed at a "body farm" after your death. These farms are large, cordoned-off areas of land associated with college or university research programs. Bodies are placed in various locations around the farm and observed on a daily basis to determine the rate of decomposition and factors associated with each stage of the process. The research gleaned from these programs can help law enforcement solve "cold case" murders and determine with precision the time and date of death -- even for bodies that go days without being found. Letting your own body fuel this research and bring killers to justice can be one of the best legacies you'll leave.

For more information and options, talk with a local cemetery, such as Memorial Mortuaries, directly.