The coffin, the hearse, the black clothes, granite memorials, burial gowns, drapes and, most of all, the job of the funeral director are all essentially a Victorian invention. More and more people are considering different sorts of funeral as an alternative to traditional religious services and cremations.
A modern natural burial is an environmentally sustainable alternative to existing funeral practices where the body is returned to the earth to decompose naturally and be recycled into new life.
The body is prepared for burial without chemical preservatives and is buried in a simple shroud or biodegradable casket that might be made from locally harvested wood, wicker or even recycled paper, perhaps even decorated with good-bye messages from friends.
A natural burial ground often uses grave markers that don’t intrude on the landscape. These natural markers can include shrubs and trees, an engraved flat stone native to the area or centralized memorial structure set within the emerging forest that provides places for visitors to sit. As in all cemeteries, there are careful records kept of the exact location of each interment, often using modern survey techniques such as GIS (geographic information system).
Planting native trees, shrubs and flowers on or near the grave establishes a living memorial and helps form a protected wildlife preserve. A completed natural burial preserve is a green place with trees, grasses, and wildflowers, which in turn bring birds and other wildlife to the area.
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