Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag - Page 44

ELLEN MACDONALD We should let dead people look like dead people. Eloise Woods Community Natural Burial Park is different from a conventional cemetery – everything has to be readily biodegradable. Bodies are not embalmed. We don't use any plastic or metal containers, and there are no concrete grave liners in the soil. Our graves are shallow, and we don't use any upright headstones or allow any plastic or artificial decorations. Everyone has a flat, natural field stone. It doesn't look like a cemetery. It's more like a nature preserve. Back when everybody was pretty much on the same page, all families had the same idea of how they would show their respect to someone that they loved who had died. It was usually an ostentatious spending of a lot of money buying the most expensive casket for an embalmed body and huge displays of flowers—how much you loved this person was reflected by how much you spent. Now people are realizing that spending a lot of money and hurting the environment is not the best way to honor somebody. I had never heard of green burial until I saw an episode of Six Feet Under where they portrayed someone having what I considered a beautiful 44 | ART OF DYING burial ceremony that I wanted for myself and I couldn't get at the time. I immediately knew that this was something I wanted to do. I bought the land specifically for this purpose and plunged ahead, learning everything along the way. Eloise Woods has grown considerably. Funeral directors are getting more requests for green burials and are starting to come on board. I buried several animals before burying my first person. We've had many people buried with their pets. Sometimes the person is here first and their pet is buried on top of them. If the pet dies first, the person is buried beside their pet’s grave. There aren’t any laws about burying animals. For a person, if you're in what they call an impermeable casket, something plastic or metal, you only need to be a foot and a half below the soil. But if you're in something they call permeable, like a shroud, a basket, or anything that water can soak through, then you need only two feet of soil above you. Wild animals can't smell any further than 18 inches beneath the soil. Someone did a survey asking all the natural burial parks if they'd ever had any animal