Cheryl Gress Editor-in-Chief

2 minutes reading time (412 words)

Alternate Endings: Six New Ways To Die In America

Thank you HBO for providing us with a screener to review!

Other than taxes, death is the other certainty with life. With the increasing number of cremations, traditional funerals are on the decline and many funeral homes are predicted to close down if they don’t embrace technology and new ways to mourn the loss of loved ones. One funeral home was shown offering “drive-thru viewings”. Attending funerals has always been a little awkward, but that’s still bizarre to me.

Alternate Endings: Six New Ways To Die In America features six individuals/families who have recently lost or are in the process of departing into eternity. There’s a family who lost their young son to terminal cancer and per his wishes, had a celebration of life with five bouncy houses, fireworks, Batman, and face painting because funerals don’t have to be sad and boring. Another family threw a “living wake” for their terminally ill father. He appreciated being able to tell people in person how much he loved and appreciated them in his life.

For an ocean-loving father, his daughter mixed his ashes into some concrete used in making a memorial reef. Besides offering housing to aquatic life, man-made memorial reefs replenish the dying coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. A space-loving grandfather had his ashes blasted into space and his family enjoyed watching the rocket launch for that.

Green burials are also an option. In a green burial, the body is placed in a shallow grave without a coffin to give nutrients back to the Earth. The lady shown that chose this option was buried along with a tree she wished to nourish. California is one of the minority states that allow people with terminal illnesses to die with dignity (suicide). One gentleman wanted to die on his terms and set a time and date to drink a medical cocktail that would place him into a coma after a few minutes of consumption and meet his maker within thirty minutes. Although this man did not seem to be religious, he did request a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace to be played at his funeral.

There are lots of ways to honor and remember the passing of loved ones. This documentary was definitely somber, but informative. I just wish it showed the price ranges of some of these options. Not that I’m planning on having my remains scattered into the ocean or outer space, I’m a little curious how much those options cost.

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