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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Green Funerals

According to the Portland Press Herald, the newest trend among hipsters is green funerals:

Klara Tammany's mother didn't want a typical American funeral. No embalming, no metal casket, not even a funeral home.

When she died after a long illness a couple of years ago, family members and friends washed and dressed her body and put it in a homemade wooden casket, which was laid across two sawhorses in the dining room of her condo in Brunswick.

Then, for two days, friends and family visited, brought cut flowers, wrote messages on the casket's lid and said goodbye.

"We had this wake, and it was wonderful," Tammany said.

Before you go "Ewww", remember that this is what our ancestors did for time immemorial. It is still the way most people in the world bury their dead.

I can't remember the article now, but I read once that this kind of wake (where the body is present in the house) is actually beneficial. The idea is that we have a harder time coping with loss when the physical reminder is removed. It's a little more difficult to think of aunt Sally as dead when she's at the funeral home or the church. But when the body is right in the parlor, you can't ignore the reality.

The claim of the funeral homes is simply ridiculous, as the state Center for Disease Control points out. Sure, you don't want to put mom and dad next to the cistern, but there's no reason for them to be embalmed and put in a massive casket. Funeral homes have a nice little racket going on. $10,000 to dispose of a body? People only pay it because they're told it's what they have to do.

The article reminds me of the way the Bene Gesserit handled their dead in Frank Herbert's Dune. When a sister died, with little fan fair they were dumped feet first in a hole. Then a tree (of their choosing) was planted over the grave site. Fertilizer, garden, and grave marker all in one. Now that's a green funeral.

2 Responses to "Green Funerals"

Someone recently informed me that funeral homes are buying up the Ambulance service companies. Something about them already having the vehicles. I am not sure I want an ambulance coming for me that is owned by a funeral home.

Is it legal to perform taxidermy on a human? If having Aunt Sally in the parlor is beneficial then why not keep her around a little bit longer?

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, http://naturalburial.coop 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.

Natural Burial allows people to make one final act, to communicate, in death, a statement of their values about life.

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