Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Green Funerals

 Your Last Opportunity To Go Green

Memorial Day brings to mind burials, funerals and such. The modern funeral system is one of the many things I generally keep my mouth shut about. Except here. This will not be a rant, I promise. Just one or two stories, my opinion, a link to some facts and a couple of links to interesting places.

Today a couple of my aunts are visiting. They had a long boring informative conversation with my mother about their trip to several cemeteries. They had been to the cemetery where my mom's mom and my dad are buried.

Okay sidebar - when my dad was buried, my mom wanted to go ahead and have her name carved on the other side of his headstone. All the information except the date that she died. One of my brothers and I absolutely refused to let her do this. It is common practice but IMHO it is morbid and hideous. I do not want to be at a cemetery and see my mother's name on a gravestone when she is not dead. If they can carve the date of her death later, they can carve her whole damn thing later.

Anywho - they were going on about the state of the cemetery, the leaving of flowers, etc. Apparently they had to pull some weeds and fluff up dad's fake flowers. Do you know how old those flowers are? Fake flowers must have a half-life that rivals Uraninum 238. It's amazing they are still in the grave vase as the wind often blows all the flowers away to be trash everywhere. More about flowers later.

So then they went on talked about another cemetery where one of my uncles is buried. They were talking about mowing and weed eating and his flowers. And it was everything I could do to keep from bursting out laughing. See, I got a clear picture of what my dad's reaction and Uncle R's reaction to their concern about the state of their grave sites would have been. They would have laughed at them. They would, in fact, have ragged them endlessly for being ridiculous and acting as if the state of the hole they were buried in was important. Is this really a wise use of fossil fuel resources which are precious and which are causing global warming? Mowing graveyards?

One aunt talked about the florist they had been to in a little, tiny town and the fact that on Friday she had already made 600 memorial wreaths/sprays and would be making no telling how many more the next day. Fake flowers. When did this become the norm? Remember when people put actual flowers on graves once or twice a year and did not worry about the fact that they were going to dry up and blow away? (Still a practice in Mexico - see picture below). It's obscene to think of all those fake flowers creating trash.



Ever heard of green burial? I'm hoping that some day it will be the new norm. There are many ways to do it.

I recently read of a place  in Florida where they mix cremation ashes in with the concrete that they use to make reef balls which eventually become coral reefs.


Another interesting option is some place like the Foxfield Preserve . Foxfield is a nature preserve. From their website: "As a nature preserve, we provide wildlife habitat, a clean watershed, and clean air.  Our walking trails allow the community to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the preserve." I won't give all their details here. If you're interested in all the hows and whys check out their website.



So why wouldn't one want to be buried in the way that has come to be known as 'traditional', though it is anything but? Think of the waste of resources. For facts and figures go here and read the 'Environmental issues with conventional burial' section.

See the above link for how much wood is buried. Is this a wise use of wood when we should be cutting down as few trees as possible?

Then there's the leaching of chemicals, embalming fluid etc, into our water table. Surely there is no one out there who thinks this is a sound practice.

And what about the fact that not so long ago human bodies 'recycled' in a timely manner replenishing valuable things into our soil? Instead we are trying to prevent this from happening as long as possible and instead leaching chemicals into our water system. Is this wise?

On Memorial Day or the anniversary of a loved one's death or Dia de Los Muertes, think about it - do you want to be buried in such a way that wastes wood and resources, keeps your body from decaying naturally, ruins the water table, requires gas and oil to be mowed and where people will bring fake flowers and flags that will end up blowing away and becoming more trash for our landfills?

Or is there not some more natural, creative way that would suit you?

Myself, I'm torn between the coral reef and the nature preserve.




18 comments:

  1. I tend to agree with you. I'm just glad green funerals have become a viable option.

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    1. I'm really glad to see so many people supportive of this because in years past when I have mentioned this idea, it was not received well.

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    2. True confessions -- I kind of skipped through a lot. My brother's burial is on the horizon and I shrank from it. Do not want to lose my big brother. My book end.

      I focused on the headstone.

      My mom spent most her life seeing her demise. Darl M. Quayle with a lived and died time stamp.
      It was another Darl M. Quayle to be certain, but what are the odds and back then the cemetary rounds were the norm on memorial day.

      When Mom did die we put Dad as a hyphen...
      To me it seemed fitting to the life they had shared. But that's just me.

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    3. (((Judie))) It must be hard about your brother. My sympathies.
      And as far as the decision of what to do goes regarding these things - to each her own, for sure.

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  2. I used to think I wanted to be cremated. The thought of embalming and preserving this earthly body after I'm done using it is horrifying to me. But then, there are environmental concerns about cremation as well, although I'm too lazy to look them up right now. So it's the green burial for me. I guess one of the issues is that you do have to have a funeral fairly quickly after the death so far-flung relatives might not make it to the service. But you could do the burial and then have a memorial service.

    I also never understood the fake flower thing. I plant flowers on my grandparent's graves in the summer and they get an evergreen decoration at Christmas, mostly because it makes mom happy.

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    1. I had also heard there were issues with cremation. Now there is an option, and I'm stating this badly, but you can be essentially frozen until you become flakes and then treated like ashes.

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  3. With both Gram (and her little dog) and Mom (and her little dog), we let their ashes go in the ocean. Nothing wrong with it, even tho' it's technically illegal. With Mom there were too many people around , so we we dug a hole, dumped in the ashes, and built a castle over it then let the waves carry sand and ashes out to sea.

    I think I'd like my ashes to become some sort of add-in (ashes are good for soil) to someone's garden or a park.

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  4. I've always assumed I'd just do cremation. I guess these things also depend on how much money there is from your estate to do green options, plus if it's offered where you live etc? Well... they've got 40-some years to get it right for me. ;-)

    Fake flowers must have a half-life that rivals Uraninum 238 - lol

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    1. All those things are a consideration and it's kind of morbid. I have a very BIG family, though and there is always a funeral going on.

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  5. I was burned when I was a kid, so cremation kind of freaks me out. I know I'd be dead and all, but...no. Other than that, I mostly leave it to my husband to think about, as I plan on predeceasing him. He says I'm not allowed. We'll see. Hopefully not for another fifty years or so, though.

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    1. I can see where that would make you want to go in a different direction.

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  6. weird to think about this stuff. I've always wanted to be cremated, too, but had never thought that there might be environmental consequences. Since you can't live without having an environmental impact, I guess it doesn't surprise me that dying would have one, too. I might still be OK with cremation.

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    1. It is weird, Barb. I have already partially written a romance novel in which the heroine owns a green burial ground. I'll probably pick it up and finish it at some time.

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  7. Great, and very timely, topic Judy! It will surprise no one that we discuss death, dying, and burial, around here on a regular basis. It's green all the way for us. In another 40 plus years.

    Dee, I told Dan he couldn't go first either. We argue over it. No one wins. My mother read about an old couple (in there mid-90s) who were swept away in a freak avalanche, they'd been in the family cabin, asleep, side by side. She and I vote for THAT as our Final Statement. Go together, no clean up!

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    1. You're right. That doesn't surprise me. It's so you.

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  8. I'm with you on this. I will likely be creamated, although it doesn't make me happy that it takes a bunch of fuel to do that. At least no chemicals. Then I think I'll be sprinkled in a rose garden someplace. Unless that's bad for roses...

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    1. It makes me so happy to see so many supportive people on this. A rose garden sounds like a worthy place to nourish. I can't imagine how that could be harmful to it.

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