Humans have been burying their dead for approximately 200,000 years. Here in the US, prior to the Civil War and the advent of embalming, burial was primarily handled by families and religious communities. With the art of embalming as a means of temporarily preserving a body, a whole new industry arose to care for the dead. Until a generation ago, burial with emblaming, and open-casket viewing was the norm. It is possible to have burial without embalming for those who choose not to have it.
Orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims continue to practice burial for religious reasons. For others, burial is simply a personal preference. In recent years, there has been a return to the practice of families caring for their own dead at home (Home Funeral) as well as burial without any chemical preservation or concrete cemetery vault or liner (Green Burial). All of these options are available in Washington state.
Keep in mind however that burial involves not only not only funeral home costs, but also cemetery expenses.
While full body burial at sea is more commonly associated with deaths occurring on the high seas, it is a legal option for anyone. Burial at sea is regulated by the EPA and requires a permit, detailed procedures and notification of the EPA within 30 days.
If an individual is a veteran, they may qualify for numerous benefits that can greatly reduce these costs, including free cemetery costs at a state or national veteran’s cemetery. Some veterans benefits apply to the spouse as well. For more information visit the Veterans section of this website.