Coming Back Down to Earth: A Green Burial Story

Many years ago, Jack had told his wife Joan he wanted a green burial.  He hated the smell of funeral homes where he made frequent flower deliveries.  "I don't want any of that 'stuff' done to me" he told her more than once.  She never forgot it.

And on Earth Day 2021--beautiful, crisp, sunny--- Jack got his wish.  He was laid to rest at All Souls Natural Burial Ground in Greensboro  in a magnificent shroud created by local artist Pat Scheible.  (You might remember Pat from earlier stories in my blog because she created MY shroud too!)  Jack's shroud featured a hand-painted HMS Victory because Jack loved "the big ships" so much.  Per Joan's request, I read the poem "Gone From My Sight"  during the brief service.  And while the bagpiper played "Amazing Grace," family and friends shoveled dirt into his grave as the final ritual act of honoring Jack.  

I can never get over these statistics which those of us in the natural death and dying arena see too often:  

Each year, 22,500 conventional cemeteries across the USA bury approximately:

  • 30 million board feet of hardwood (caskets)
  • 90,272 tons of steel (caskets)
  • 14,000 tons of steel (vaults)
  • 2,700 tons of copper and bronze (caskets)
  • 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete (vaults)
  • 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid, most commonly includes formaldehyde

Thank you, Jack, for realizing the importance of recycling yourself back into Nature.  You were a mighty big lesson for all the folks present that day.  And I am hoping they will remember...

Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.  ~ Joy Harjo