As many of the families that visit our natural burial grounds know we love to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever we can. This includes encouraging locally sourced tributes for our natural burial grounds and we love seeing foraged and handmade floral tributes. Sarah, at our natural burial ground in Pembrokeshire, has made a wreath from foliage that she has foraged with her son Jesse. She wanted to share this with us and how she found the experience of 'making your own wreath'.
How Isabel Thomas is helping children to understand what happens when we die with the 'The Fox: A Circle of Life Story'.
We recently heard about a very special book on woman's hour which helps families to talk about death in an open way with children. ‘The Fox: A Circle of Life Story’, written by Isabel Thomas and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus, helps to answer a really big question that many children will ask at some point, ’what happens when we die?'
The book is not linked to religion or after death beliefs but instead explains the concept of death itself, - “Fox: A Circle of Life Story answers the big scientific question: What happens when we die?” - Bloomsbury.
Families planning a funeral are already having a hard time. Add to this the current restrictions and it just makes it harder. We have heard stories of family bubbles being separated in chairs 2m apart from each other, of funerals taking place in chapels surrounded by COVID notices where families are continually reminded of restrictions such as no singing, and with no hand to hold or arm to comfort one another it just makes a hard time that much harder. It is heart-breaking, especially because we have had such a different experience and heard positive stories including tales of takeaway pizza in the meadow and ice cream to celebrate a life.
We know funerals have to be safe, but they also have to be compassionate and at our natural burial grounds families are finding positive ways to keep funerals personal. However this is also largely due to our wonderful custodians who are working with funeral directors and families to bring personal touches that overcome the ‘Coldness of Covid’. Sally at Bath Natural Burial Meadow is one of these custodians and it has been lovely to hear that her families have been able to plan special and personal funerals. After hearing such heart-breaking stories we thought it might be nice to share some of these.
Funeral gatherings are facing ever-changing restrictions and rules and it is heart-breaking to hear how family groups and household ‘bubbles’ have been separated, unable to offer comforting hugs or a hand to hold at a time they need it the most. We have seen ourselves the no-entry signs, barrier tape, warnings, isolated chairs and one-way systems which add to the bleakness of what is already a distressing situation. We want families to know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Funerals can still be compassionate even amidst the pandemic. At the natural burial meadow at Usk Castle Chase Rosie has been working with families to make sure they can arrange safe, but compassionate funerals.
We recently had the pleasure of talking to Amanda from Wyldwood Willow who was at our natural burial meadow in Usk Castle Chase for a socially distanced 'willow coffin workshop'. She has put together a few words for our guest blog about her coffin making workshop, which helps families who want something a bit more personal and unique...
We have added our details to the test and trace app. There are individual QR Codes for each of the Natural Burial Ground in England and Wales. Please feel free to share these for family and friends who may be visiting or attending a funeral to help keep everyone safe. In Scotland we are also following the Test and Protect Guidelines, if you are attending a funeral some information may be requested to ensure these are being followed.
Stay safe and stay well, you can find the NHS QR Codes for our natural burial grounds in Wales and England in this blog.
You can find our up to date guidance on funerals, visiting the natural burial ground and coronavirus here...
Usk Castle Chase is well known for offering families peaceful and beautiful resting places in beautiful Monmouthshire countryside. The natural burial meadow is also somewhere private to hold a different type of send off, perhaps one that is simpler and closer to nature. It's a place where families can be as modest or extravagant, traditional or off-beat, celebratory or ceremonial as they wish - with the freedom to choose what they want.
When someone becomes a part of the natural burial ground they become a part of its history and we are often privileged to hear about their life history, who they were and why a natural burial was right for them. Occasionally, during these conversations, their own family members even find out something about their life that they never knew, a hidden gem that conjours up a smile.
We thought it was about time that we shared some of our hidden gems that maybe even people who have visited the burial ground never knew about.
How social distancing has brought a more personal element to funerals...
We recently had a catch up with celebrant Deborah Morgan Lewis of Morfa Civil Ceremonies who has been right in the centre of organising funerals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Deborah is based in Cardiff and has conducted natural burials at our natural burial grounds in both Cardiff and Usk.
We wanted to discuss how she has been finding the changes that have had to be implemented and how this had impacted on funerals. What came across, when we discussed this, was that socially distanced funerals don't have to be impersonal; in fact, they can be much more intimate and rewarding.
As we celebrate the Summer Solstice we thought it would be a good time to share the history of the standing stones at Cothiemuir Hill. This beautiful stone circle is an important part of Cothiemuir Wood and our surrounding natural burial ground. It is a protected area that has been historically important for thousands of years, and when the summer solstice approaches it brings to mind so many questions as to its use and why these magnificent stone circles, placed across Britain and Ireland and beyond, were built. Although on closer inspection of the stones maybe we should be posting this at the next major lunar standstill.
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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