Did Vikings Really Cremate Their Dead Onboard Longboats?

There is currently a myth widely accepted as unwavering truth particularly among the fans of Viking and folk metal music bands like Amon Amarth. Basically, it is believed that Viking funerals always implied sending the deceased alongside important possessions from his mortal life down a body of water and setting the longboat ablaze by firing flame arrows.

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Unfortunately, it turns out that generalizing this particular type of funeral as the “norm of the Norns” is completely erroneous, for several reasons that we will discuss in the following guide. No matter how much Hollywood productions and metal bands romanticize the practice, performing a full immolation through this method would’ve not only been impractical for material reasons, but the science behind cremation tells us that it is virtually impossible. Let’s elaborate.

Longboats weren’t that easy to come by

When most people are thinking about Vikings, they tend to associate the tribes of warriors exclusively with Norwegians. In fact, Viking was a term referring to virtually any individual from the Scandinavian Peninsula, including the Danes and Swedes whose main occupation was waging war and plundering poorly protected establishments.

The Vikings were not united under a single banner and different tribes constantly brawled at each other for domination over certain regions with valuable resources, one of them being wood. At the same time, skilled craftsmen who could design quality longboats were quite rare those days, what with everyone preferring to wield a sword rather than a carpenter’s mallet.

Well, scrapping a highly expensive and valuable longboat (the favorite means of transportation for Vikings) every time someone died doesn’t make sense. And the truth is that there were plenty of ways to die those days, not only on the battlefield but also in coups, assassinations and due to different epidemics generate by precarious hygiene. The honor for being sent to the riverbed in a flaming vessel was reserved for the high ranking members of the tribe, not for the average Günther.

Wood does not burn nearly as hot as it has to

A report issued by the Funeral & Cremation Council states that the minimum required temperature for a human body to burn completely cannot be lower than 1,100 degrees Celsius. Even at this temperature, it takes approximately two or three hours before the cadaver has transformed into ashes. However, a flaming longboat neither has two hours to burn before sinking to the bottom of the river nor can it burn at temperatures exceeding 700 or, at best, 900 degrees Celsius.

What would be the result of sending a body afloat a flaming ship on fire via carefully shot flaming arrows then? In most cases, probably piles of charred body parts and ships making their way downstream generating epidemics and attracting carrion. With all the diseases running rampant in that age, it’s unlikely that Vikings would’ve opted for this high risk practice.

The truth about Viking funeral rites

The only similarity between the myth and the reality of the Viking funerals consists of the utilization of fire to dispose of the mortal remains and send the spirit of the warriors to Valhalla. In essence, upon death, the body was attached to a funeral pyre and set ablaze in the course of a religious ceremony. The Vikings believed that the key element required for reaching the heavens was the wind that carried the spirit released from the body upwards, but in order for this to happen the burden of the flesh must be lifted, hence the fire.

Furthermore, the ashes resulted from the immolation were customarily buried in the ground during the warm seasons. When the cold weather froze the soil, preventing digging, shallow earth mounds were the temporary resting place of the burned remains.

It is also important to note that the ashes of the highly respected leaders were sometimes buried with their boats after the cremation on the funeral pyre. Such vessels are now displayed in the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark and in the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, Norway. A critical aspect is that upon being unearthed, none of these longboats presented any marks of burning or charring. Therefore, the popular concept of the Viking water funerals does not withstand the test of time.

5 Ways That Funeral Rites Are Going To Change During Our Lifetime

At first glance, you may be tempted to consider that the act of burying a person’s remains has remained unchanged for the past 350,000 years (recent evidence shows that the oldest funeral site dates back to that period). However, the proof is circumstantial, considering that it refers to a pink axe made from carved stone discovered alongside 27 human bones at the bottom of a deep pit in Atapuerca, Spain.

Archeologists believe that the depositing of the remains within the confines of this pit was deliberate and occurred after the death of their “owners”. The carved stone axe also constitutes an indicative of early human creativity.

Despite the basic principles of burial, the act has actually undergone numerous modifications over the course of time. For instance, the utilization of embalming fluids for the beautification of cadavers was not popular before the Civil War and the authorities of Western cultures only made cremation practices legal in 1884. Let’s find out other ways you can expect a funeral to be different in the near future.

1. Caskets designed for the overweight departed

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The concept of supersizing might no longer be exclusively applicable to McDonald’s meals. With one in three US citizens categorized as obese, funeral services are forced to reconsider the standard dimensions of coffins.

It is necessary to point out that over the last decade the regular width for a casket was 3 inches smaller (24 inches) than today. However, some of the deceased with larger figures cannot properly fit in the coffin even with the addition of the 3 inches. Therefore, certain funeral homes decided to offer their clients custom supersized version that go up to 52 inches in width.

One might think that cremation could represent the better solution in this case, considering that the special transportation methods, extra plot space and other expenses can add up to staggering fees. True, cremating chunkier departed may address the aforementioned concerns, but it also adds a new dimension to the problem. Fat tissue requires substantially higher temperatures to burn, so high that in several instances the ovens cause entire cremation facilities to go up in flames.

2. Eco-friendly body disposal means

The trend of choosing to be buried inside coffins crafted from bio-degradable and environmentally sound materials is really taking off in the UK. Wool, for instance, presents a plethora of other benefits as well, such as boosting the industry that was previously on its last legs and the ability to customize the dimensions and shape according to the deceased. Recycled newspapers are also an increasingly popular option in terms of casket fabrics. On a side note, the problem with the toxic embalming fluids seeping in the soil is still ignored.

3. Our digital legacy will linger on

Few people can safely say that the thought of having their browsing history made public to family and friends following a sudden death is not troublesome. The good news that you can prevent the unfortunate accident by hiring a specialized company – yes, there are several out there – to handle your online presence after your passing, according to your wishes. At the same time, another recent trend implies affixing your tombstone with Bluetooth access to your social network accounts – powered by solar panels – therefore allowing visitors to connect to it and read all the nice things you’ve done throughout your life.

4. Your funeral could be streamed online

The internet has provided us with the means to stay in contact with friends and family from halfway across the globe. Isn’t it convenient to be able to talk to people in other countries without regularly spending half your salary on plane tickets? And wouldn’t you want them to be present at your funeral, if only in spirit? Then online streaming services could represent the answer. Working with a funeral home that counts this option in the service package ensures that everyone you’ve known has the option to view your funeral stream, even though you live several thousand miles away.

5. Being buried with your trusted smartphone by your side

Considering that nowadays people can’t put down their smartphones for even a second and most irritating, during face to face conversations, it’s understandable why some feel the emptiness of the grave just wouldn’t be the same without their trusty gadgets. Powered by large accumulators that ensure years of faithful service or by solar panels, smartphones are quickly becoming a mandatory part of funeral paraphernalia throughout the world. However, it’s unadvisable to employ this practice if the body of the departed is being cremated, because mixing electronics and scorching flames always results in explosions.

5 Spine Chilling Methods That Unscrupulous Individuals Use To Profit From Death

Although most of us perceive death as the sacred passage from this world and the thoughts evoked by the transition make us shiver because they remind us everyone is mortal, the same cannot be said about the “business owners” we are about to discuss.

Whether you believe that death constitutes the transition from this life to the next, the state should be revered and respected, rather than employed for profit gains. However, it turns out that few things are still perceived sacred nowadays, except of course for the all-mighty dollar sign. Let’s elaborate.

1. Insurance policies for employees that have passed

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The corporate world always comes up with numerous surprising ways to increase their profit margin, that’s a given. However, if you thought that pushing employees to their limits at the office, cancelling dental plans and slicing salaries are the only methods, think again. One of the taboo subjects that you probably shouldn’t bring up with your CEO next time you meet for coffee consists of “Dead Peasant” insurance policies.

To summarize this concept, Dead Peasant insurance is basically a policy taken by the company on their employees, which pays up whenever that person dies. What’s sinister about it is that it doesn’t make a difference whether the person is still working for the company at the time of his death. Whether you quit, got fired or retired, the corporation you used to work for still gets to collect the benefits. Did we mention that they’re not legally required to inform you about the insurance policy?

2. Grave robbery for surprising resources

The fact that thieves, burglars and politicians will no longer be able to dip their fingers into our pockets after death represents one of the few comforts we cling onto in our final hours. Unfortunately, dying never constituted the theft-ward everyone hopes for, especially if you live in India. The grave robbing trade is incredibly lucrative in this country, mainly due to poverty and desperation.

In fact, in spite of the authorities’ efforts to put a stop to these criminal acts since 1985, grave robbers have found numerous ways to get around the laws. What’s even more disturbing is that your material possessions and personal effects do not constitute the main target; your physical remains do. You see, India is still among the main “exporters” of bones and skeletons outsourced from desecrated burial sites.

3. Fishing crews that specialize in salvaging dead bodies

Considering the high rates of suicide China’s currently renowned for – statistics indicate that it’s roughly 26% of the global ones – and that the preferred method is voluntary drowning, it comes as no surprise that numerous fishermen traded in their rods and nets for body fishing utensils. The cadavers that are recuperated from the lakes and rivers of the country are then ransomed back to the grieving families for up to $500. How much would you be willing to pay in order to secure a decent burial for a loved one?

4. Fake funerals for infants

In the light of the success recorded by a sob story about a family who appealed to the mercy of internet strangers to raise the cash necessary for their infant’s burial, a few unscrupulous individuals figured out there’s money to be made in this business. As of such, the World Wide Web became flooded with websites where people would request money to bury their dead children, in spite of the fact that a) the infants were not actually dead and b) they never existed to begin with. These scams, which are pretty see-through if you think about it, managed to reel in between $700 and $1,400, until the perpetrators were exposed.

5. Transforming graveyard sites into good luck charms

One of the reasons why dying in India isn’t recommended, well, just look at this case. A restaurant named New Lucky was constructed on the site of a burial ground and the success recorded by this establishment is beyond the manager’s wildest dreams. It would appear that advertising the location as able to bring good fortune upon its visitors is enough to make people from all around the world crowd the tables of New Lucky.

You should also know that between the seating of the restaurant, there are tombstones marking genuine tombs with their inhabitants still inside. The same belief that graves bestow good luck is exploited in Cambodia, where Pol Pot’s final resting place is open to visitor in exchange for an admission fee. Now, you know why people say cremation is better after all!

7 Handy Tips for Organizing a Funeral on a Budget

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In order to understand why funeral expenses should not be taken lightly, it suffices to say that the costs for basic services can easily reach up to $10,000. The coffin and embalming procedure in conjunction with the funeral rites typically exceed $7,000, while the surviving family will also be required to dish out an additional $3,000 on average only for gravesite preparations, plot and liner.

Some funeral directors have made it their life mission to advocate the idea that the procession represents a part of the grief coping strategy for the surviving family and therefore, they should not dwell on the financial implications for too long. However, since not everyone has $10,000 at their disposal to freely spend on a funeral, let’s find out what you CAN do to minimize the costs.

1. Compare several funeral homes before deciding

Customarily, a family that is in grief after the passing of a member opts for one of the first funeral homes listed in the hospital’s catalog. Unfortunately, most of the top ranked ones are part of larger chains that practice excessive prices. However, without consulting with other funeral homes representatives, you have no way of knowing just how much extra you’ll be paying for the same services, including transportation, burial/cremation, embalming, etc. You could save up to a few thousand dollars with a simple comparison.

2. Demand an itemized cost list for the services

The FTC has enforced what’s referred to as the Funeral Rule, a guideline stipulating that a funeral director is required, on demand, to provide clients with a detailed account of the funeral costs. The so-called “basic service fee”, which often goes up to $5,000 and includes plot planning, burial/cremation permit, death certificates, body storage, etc. should be more in the neighborhood of $1,000 – $1,500.

3. Determine how mandatory are the services listed as required

A funeral home might include embalming within the list of required services, but according to the law performing this expensive – and environmentally unsound – operation is necessary if a longer period of time between the death and the funeral passes. At the same time, vault/liners are useful for preventing a coffin from descending as it degrades, but not ultimately necessary.

4. Opt for cremation instead of burial

On average, the price of funeral rites that culminate with the cremation of the body rather than the burial is 50% lower. The reason for the affordability of cremation stems from the fact that expensive coffins, cemetery spaces and other associated amenities are eliminated from the equation. A funeral urn can be acquired for less than $20. Perhaps this can explain why the number of cremation funerals grew by 7% between 2006 and 2010 (41%), and is expected to reach 56% in 2025.

5. Find out the benefits of purchasing the casket/urn from the funeral home

If the family wishes to provide the coffin or urn for the deceased rather that use one selected by the funeral home, then the latter party is not legally allowed to refuse the request. However, to get around the law, certain funeral homes provide more or less attractive incentives to seal the deal. Before you decide, browse the itemized service list discussed at the 2nd point of this guide and determine whether or not the discount is worth it.

6. Opt for a DIY tribute in favor of formal memorial services

Extended wakes and the services of a professional funeral director add to the already high costs of the process. Opting for a fast-tracked burial or cremation and holding your eulogies and tributes in a place dear to the departed not only eliminates the requirement for embalming, but can also save a great deal of cash on the storage of the body and the funeral services.

7. Never pick state of the art coffins

You will certainly be faced with the sales pitch of the funeral home advocating the benefits of a sealed coffin that prevents natural elements – typically insects and water leakage – from permeating. Remember that in general, these expensive coffins won’t last much longer than a standard pine version and the cost difference can go up to a few thousand dollars.

Final thoughts

The thought of organizing a funeral is one we’d often prefer to dismiss for as long as possible, mainly due to the unpleasant emotions evoked by the passing of a loved one. Unfortunately, proper planning in a timely manner and acquiring life insurance that includes coverage for funeral services constitute the only ways to avert a potential financial crisis when the dreaded moment comes to pass.

5 Tips for Writing A Heartfelt And Moving Eulogy

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Before discussing the process of creating a sincere and cordial eulogy for a person who has recently passed away, let’s all remember what this particular type of speech should imply. Eulogies are discourses conducted during the funeral procession of the deceased that underline the speaker’s relationship to the person and, at the same time, provide the friends and family members present with a touching glimpse of the past.

Furthermore, the eulogy should constitute a tribute to the personal qualities and achievements of the departed, evidently without making a mountain out of a molehill. After all, the funeral attendees comprise mainly of people who have known the deceased. Without further ado, let’s elaborate on the five critical features of a sincere, heartfelt and moving eulogy.

1. Originality instead of reproduced content

Unless you are a highly trained writer and/or orator, the task of compiling and delivering the eulogy is not going feel easy. You might even consider it would be better to find and adapt an eulogy written for someone else, since after all, the internet constitutes a great resource in this sense. However, the problem with this approach is that your discourse will not sound genuine and heartfelt no matter how much you try to polish it. Your personal insight, although lacking in big words and dazzling figures of speech, will be a thousand times more comforting for the grieving family.

2. A consistent theme for the discourse

In order to simplify the process of writing the eulogy, you should pick a single theme for the discourse and stick to it. For example, talk about the deceased’s dedication to his family or his career, elaborating on your points with suitable examples. Alternatively, you could bring tribute to the activities that he enjoyed during his life or the stories he used to share with everyone. Remember, a consistent theme always ties the whole speech together.

3. Negativity has no part in a eulogy

It should go without saying, but the negative aspects of the departed’s life are best left out of an eulogy speech. Evidently, the same rule of thumb applies to present friends and family members. The funeral is not a place to point fingers, criticize or bash someone’s image. You have all gathered there to mourn the passing of a person who has been very close to you and be with him one last time. In addition, keep in mind that all the people attending the funeral are perfectly aware of the fact that the deceased was human and, as of such, he had flaws and made mistakes. It’s just not the right moment to bring them up.

4. Short speeches are always preferable

When it comes to creating and delivering a eulogy for a person with whom you shared a lot of memories, you may find it difficult to choose between what you should include and what you should leave out of the discourse. However, the importance of keeping the speech short cannot be stressed enough. Therefore, remember about the theme you’ve selected earlier and try to trim down the manuscript, starting with the elements that don’t fit in the category. After all, there are others who will surely want to deliver their own eulogy and we should not prolong the pain of the grieving family anymore than you have to.

On a side note, it’s advisable to practice delivering the eulogy before the funeral in order to determine exactly how much time it takes you to complete your speech.

5. Re-reading the text after completion and editing as necessary

The final step of the process should always be the editing of the text. Once you are overall satisfied with the eulogy and you think there is nothing more you can add, it is time to go through it carefully and see if you cannot improve it any further or correct phrases that seem out of place. However, don’t forget that you’re not striving for perfection, but rather you’re trying to ensure that the speech you’re about to deliver does justice to the departed and your relationship with him.

Final thoughts

The eulogy for a close friend or family member is perhaps one of the most difficult discourses you’ll ever have to complete and chances are you will become emotional in the process or writing or delivering it. Don’t fret, it’s all of part of the natural cycle of grieving and the most important thing to remember is to speak from the heart.

5 Reasons Why Cremating is the Right Choice

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If you are quickly approaching the end of your twilight years and you are still uncertain about the best way for your mortal remains to rejoin the endless cycle of life, then the following guide might bring some assistance. The methods utilized for disposing of the body is a decision ultimately taken in accordance to the final wish of the departed and it is often specified in the will or a preemptive document that stipulates it specifically.

Currently, cremation and burial – traditional or eco-friendly – constitute the primary options in North America and Canada, with the former rapidly rising in popularity due to several benefits that we will discuss in the following guide. Let’s find out what they are.

1. The costs of cremation are considerably lower

The Funeral Directors Association released a statement according to which the expenditure associated with traditional burial rituals is, on average, in the neighborhood of $7,000 excluding the plot, grave marker and associated yearly maintenance fees.

Well, by comparison, the expenses entailed by a ceremony culminating with the cremation of the body ranges between $1,400 and $1,700 for basic services. In these trying economic times, opting for the financially feasible alternative and saving surviving family the trouble of coming up with such high amounts of cash is definitely the right thing to do.

2. Increased flexibility for the planning of the memorial

Flexibility in this case stems from the ability to plan the moment of the ceremony in concordance with the ability of friends and family to participate, the availability of the venues of choice, the wishes of the departed and other similar factors. Considering that the ashes resulted from the cremation are not subjected to rapid decomposition like in the case of traditional burial ritual, the time factor no longer represents the main concern. Keep in mind that even embalming fluid can’t preserve a body indefinitely.

3. Eliminates the urgency associated with burial ceremonies

Closely related to the previous consideration, but from a different point of view this time, cremation offers the benefit of postponing the ceremony until the point where all family members are comfortable with it. Traversing all stages of grief takes different amounts of time, depending on each person’s relationship with the departed. Eliminating the sense of urgency from the equation implies that the optimal moment for delivering the tribute can be selected.

4. The ability to opt for religious or secular processions

With the growing popularity of cremation, more and more religions are accepting this method of disposing of the departed’s body. Therefore, cremation does not exclusively imply a secular ceremony for the deceased anymore. On a side note, religious people should check with a member of the clergy in order to determine their faith’s stance on the matter beforehand.

5. Substantially more environmentally sound

Keeping in mind that we’re referring to a traditional funeral – one that implies embalming, coffins constructed from metal or coated with toxic elements – then it’s safe to say that cremation is considerably more beneficial for the environment by comparison.

Although green burials and alkaline hydrolysis occupy the top positions in the top of eco-friendly body disposal techniques, the general perception towards these two alternatives is not very positive overall. Statistics indicate that in excess of 830,000 gallons of embalming fluid containing formaldehyde and various other harmful chemicals are released in the ground on a yearly basis due to burial ceremonies. On the other hand, the increase in the carbon footprint resulted from the cremation of the corpses is almost negligible.

In retrospect

In the light of the facts presented here, we believe that cremation represents the superior choice almost every time. To recapitulate, cremating the body of the departed instead of burying it traditionally saves cash, enables the family to properly plan a meaningful ceremony at their own time, permits choosing between secular and religious rituals and is definitely better for the environment.

Furthermore, bear in mind the constantly decreasing availability of the graveyard spaces as a direct result of the growing human population. Therefore, it is obvious that the price of a traditional burial can only go up in the future. On the other hand, new scientific discoveries are likely to improve the cremation process, rendering it more effective and safer for the environment, ergo more affordable. The decision is up to you!