Friday, February 1, 2008

Green Funerals 101

The publication of Diane’s book has opened the world of green funerals to us. Although our book doesn’t discuss green funerals, it does show a home death, the decision not to embalm, a family-arranged cremation, and a family-directed funeral.

A green funeral is one in which no embalming takes place and a body is buried without any toxic material being introduced to the earth, such as that found in standard coffins. A whole movement has sprung up in the past decade that advocates an environmentally friendly way of handling people’s remains.

I have become more and more interested in this type of burial for myself. Becky is not there yet, and has told me that she would prefer cremation—both her own and mine! I will bow to her wishes, of course, if I precede her in death (she doesn’t want to think of my body decaying in the earth). If I go second, well, I’ll see.

One of the best, most comprehensive articles I’ve read on environmentally-friendly funerals was posted 1/16/2008 in the on-line Cincinnati CityBeat. It includes interviews with mourners, ministers, and funeral directors. The journalist even considers the circumstances of gay and lesbian couples, something I haven’t seen in other reports on green funerals.

I’ve quoted two paragraphs below to give you taste. The second paragraph echoes my brother Bill Manahan's foreword in Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond.


“Die the Way You Live: Befriending Death and Planning for the Inevitable” by Stephen Carter-Novotni

When local chiropractor Pamela Tickel´s husband Will passed away in 2006, she was convinced that he should be laid to rest in a way that honored their commitment to the environment and a natural lifestyle. Will, also a chiropractor, was buried without embalming or a vault at Ramsey Creek preserve in South Carolina, one of just a handful of green burial grounds in the U.S.

“When we had a home birth 25 years ago, people thought we were crazy, and now people are very accepting and interested,” Pamela says, explaining that even though green burial is foreign to most, her paradigm has shifted and contemporary burial practices seem odd to her now.

For the full article, click here.


earthartist said...

Natural Burial Around the World

The modern concept of natural burial began in the UK in 1993 and has since spread across the globe. According the Centre for Natural Burial, there are now several hundred natural burial grounds in the United Kingdom and half a dozen sites across the USA, with others planned in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and even China.

A natural burial allows you to use your funeral as a conservation tool to create, restore and protect urban green spaces.

The Centre for Natural Burial provides comprehensive resources supporting the development of natural burial and detailed information about natural burial sites around the world. With the Natural Burial Co-operative newsletter you can stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the rapidly growing trend of natural burial including, announcements of new and proposed natural burial sites, book reviews, interviews, stories and feature articles.

The Centre for Natural Burial

Nancy Manahan said...

Thanks for your comment. Becky and I are delighted to discover The Centre for Natural Burial. Your website has a wealth of invaluable information. The term "natural burial" is a beautiful alternative to "green funerals."

We recently visited an organic biodanamic farm in Costa Rica. I will write an entry for our "Full Life, Good Death" blog on the surprising similarities between environmentally sound farming practices and environmentally sound burial practices.