I happen to have fairly strong ethical opinions about the funeral industry.

How do I die and deny them any profit from my death? Bonus points for actually causing a net loss.

I live in the US, so at least one answer for this country is preferred, though due to the ethical nature of the question, answers about how to achieve this in any region are welcome.

If the answer is "figure out how to get Y law repealed before you die" then that's the answer - there's definitely not a "you can't" answer to this question!

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    Put in your will that you want to be buried at sea. After you die, a friend of yours can apply for permission to take your body and bring it out to sea, and then throw it overboard. Commented May 24, 2019 at 17:16
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    Hide outside a funeral parlor and jump in front of their hearse just as it enters the public road. Commented May 24, 2019 at 19:44
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this has nothing to do with the law.
    – Dale M
    Commented May 25, 2019 at 3:35
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    Well, there are legal ways of doing it, and possibly illegal ways. So the question is really "what legal ways are there of disposing of my body that do not involve a funeral director?", which is quite wide-ranging.
    – Owain
    Commented May 25, 2019 at 15:46

6 Answers 6

  • Fall into an unguarded open grave, and have your relatives sue
  • Get a job in a funeral director's, drink the embalming fluid by accident, and have your relatives sue for failure of duty of care in keeping chemicals safe. You might even get a death-in-service benefit
  • Get a job in a funeral director's, drink the embalming fluid intentionally, and have your relatives sue for failure of duty of care in your mental welfare. You might even get a death-in-service benefit

You might suffer any of the above on a non-fatal way and so be able to claim compensation (apart from the death-in-service benefit, although you might get an invalidity pension) without actually having to die.

I read the other day that some American funeral directors drive their hearses fast on the basis that the more burials they can do in a day the more money they earn, so getting run down by a hearse in a traffic accident might be a possibility too.

Edit to add:

There is also the economy funeral alternative:



Donate your body to some organisation like https://www.sciencecare.com/

Not only does that bypass the funeral industry all together, it's of no cost to you or your family and it may do something useful in the process.

  • It's a good suggestion in general. But from what I know of such programs, typically after they are done using the body for research, training, etc, it is cremated and the ashes returned to the next of kin. The cremation may well be done under contract by a commercial funeral director, who could make a profit. Commented May 24, 2019 at 18:52

To deny the funeral industry profit, die in a place or way that takes matters out of their hands. Some examples are:

  • The Mount Everest. If you die above a certain point, your corpse will not be recovered. It will stay there.
  • Die in service of your country. Most Western countries bury fallen soldiers and some even firefighters and policemen with special honors and not in a way that benefits the funeral industry.
  • Provide your own coffin and clothes and move to a country that does not enforce graveyard usesge.
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    Dying on Mount Everest seems unrealistic, as when you want to die you're probably not capable of making it far enoug up the mountain to be unrecoverable. I'm pretty sure your countrymen's tax dollars will go to an unnecessarily expensive coffin and unnecssarily expensive land for that coffin to sit in uselessly forever. Providing my own coffin is still benefiting the funeral industry because it's not subverting the fact that you HAVE to have a coffin in order to die - a societal belief that it is necessary to destroy in order to eliminate the funerl industry. Edited title to clariy "benefit"
    – old-dude
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 16:34
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    @old-dude building your own coffin is out of question?
    – Trish
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 16:44
  • Dying in the wilderness, alone, would probably do the trick. Don't let anyone know where you went, don't bring anything you could be tracked by, don't go by a route that someone else is likely to hike on. Ideally, somewhere where scavengers will demolish the body.
    – Mary
    Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 0:25

Die on a passenger ship in international waters several days from a port, and the ship master's correct course of action is to bury the body at sea unembalmed.

Brambir v. Cunard White Star Limited

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    That was in 1940. I am pretty sure that these days, the corpse would more likely be refrigerated and brought back to port for the usual handling. Commented May 24, 2019 at 18:33

If you have no heirs and a limited estate, and know (or at least believe) you are close to death, you could blow all your money to the point you're basically broke.

Then arrange for a lavish ceremony, memorial, and burial, and write them a check for the extravagance.

Die immediately after (before they have a chance to cash the check), and by the time the check bounces, the ceremony will already be over. If you have an estate, they'd go after that for the cost, but if you're already broke, there is little they can do.

The real trick is in the timing, as they will almost certainly want the check to clear fully before the big memorial.


If your gripe is with the conventional funeral services industry then may I suggest that you could write it in your will that your body must be used towards human composting. This is legal in states like Washington, USA (assuming USA). The added benefit here is that you could donate organs and then the remaining body could 'give back' to the soil a lot more nutrients than with other methods. (Check out companies like Recompose for ex.)

If you don't want to deal with any sort of funeral service, then other ideas do cover ground.

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