Personalization is truly the word of the decade for funerals. People have more options than ever.
Just think — if you don’t want a traditional burial or cremation, you can always choose to dissolve your body via alkaline hydrolysis, use your body for human composting, and someday you’ll be able to choose freeze drying your body as a burial alternative.
But before choosing what to do with the remains of the deceased, families have another option — DNA preservation.
DNA Preservation’s Rise
The concept of DNA preservation isn’t new, but newer technology developed by laboratories can now offer DNA preservation as a memorial service.
Even some funeral homes are starting to get in on the action. In 2015, there were just 20 funeral homes in the United States that offered DNA preservation services for family members. Now, more and more funeral homes are partnering with labs like DNA Memorials to offer DNA preservation as an option for families.
DNA Preservation Explained
While “DNA banking” has long been used by government agencies and health companies, DNA memorialization is fairly new. In the past, the safest way to store DNA was to cryogenically freeze it. But companies such as SecuriGene have developed a process to store DNA in stainless steel capsules that can be kept right on the family mantle.
The methods to obtain a DNA sample are simple enough. Just a swab of the cheek or a hair sample. And then it’s off to the lab to get purified, preserved, and memorialized. How it’s memorialized is also up to you. Depending on the lab, you can keep the DNA in a high-tech capsule, store it in the lab itself, or even use the DNA in diamonds, jewelry, or in paint that can be used for a portrait of the deceased.
Families interested in a DNA memorial have to make up their mind quickly, though. Cremation destroys a person’s DNA, and the only way to get DNA samples after burial is to exhume the body. So it has to be done prior to any other funeral decisions.
Why Store DNA?
DNA memorials offer the opportunity to preserve the life of a loved one in its purest essence. For about $300-600, we can memorialize the genetic blueprint that makes each of us unique.
Beyond being a meaningful memorial, there are practical benefits to DNA preservation. For one, your grandkids might thank you. According to SecuriGene’s website, DNA memorials can help “future generations in understanding their health risks and allows them to take preventative measures early to mitigate the devastating effects of disease before it is too late.”
This means your DNA will pass along helpful information about possible cancer types, genetic diseases, and even the ideal treatments and medicine for diseases or conditions.
It also can be an accurate way to document your family ancestry and give your future descendants a detailed picture of who you were as a person. DNA tells us virtually everything — like hair color, eye color, height, weight, the length of a life, and likely diseases — and all of it’s stored in a small memorial.
What are your thoughts? Is it something you would consider? Share with us in the comments below!
Perman Funeral Home was an early adopter of DNA preservation. We partnered with DNA Memorial in 2014. More families have selected this option than I thought would. Media attention has led other funeral directors calling us to do the sampling and paperwork. DNA banking and preservation is another added service that families have chosen and we benefit from the extra revenue it generates.