We recently came across a blog post on www.theconversation.com, posted by Robert John Young, Professor of Wildlife Conservation at Salford University.
The blog post is an exploration through today's funeral options and their environmental impact. Cremation and traditional burial are of course discussed, as are the more contemporary options of sky burial, burial at sea, and woodland burials.
It is a personal reflection of the choices people must make when a parent has left no preferences. It also highlights people's growing inclination to choose something more environmentally friendly, moving away from ordinary, conventional affairs.
However, although we enjoyed his account and the pros and cons it addresses, we felt the need to set the facts straight relating to burial and global warming. So to clarify this, and the other factors to consider when choosing what to do with your or a relative's mortal remains, here's our table:
Click the table to enlarge.
Find Professor Robert John Young's blog post here - be sure to read the comments:
In September, when the sun was still out in full, we got down to Henley Woodland Burial Ground to help custodian Andy tidy away the long grass. It was a great opportunity to spend time in amongst the trees and see some of the wildlife. It was great to see how beautiful the burial ground looked as the leaves begin to turn.
We loved Emma Freud's 'How to do a funeral' in the Guardian this week which gives some helpful suggestions when planning a funeral. At the time of a funeral there is of course a huge amount to think about, so she breaks it down into a most-important-bits format, very-helpful-indeed.
Duly inspired, we've put together our own list on how to tackle the big day natural burial stylee to make the occasion one to remember, not a day to be endured.
Leedam Natural Heritage's
The funeral director
Or not. It is not imperative to have one, although if you need someone to do the bits in the background then of course they're there to help. Like Emma says, it's ok to 'shop around' until you find one that feels right. And remember, it's always ok to say no!
Order of service
We're all for making it memorable and the order of service is a perfect opportunity to personalise the day - so perhaps use a picture from their motorbiking days for the departed eccentric or a black and white portrait for the traditionalist. The day should be a balance of what the person who has died would have wanted, and how you'd like to remember them.
You'll be offered the fleet by your funeral director which may be exactly right for you. If it isn't, then you could drive yourself or have a friend take you, or even a regular taxi. But why not car share? It's a great way to be 'green' on the day and can help make the guests feel like they're really part of it. Separating off into different cars can make others feel distant on a day everyone should be together. Others have hired a coach too, getting all the family and friends on one vehicle, chatting, reminiscing and keeping the mood upbeat between the service, burial and wake. A bike and sidecar is an option as well - see the post below to see more.
Emma's article puts it perfectly, "if your loved one's favourite track actually was Elgar's Nimrod, then stick with it. But if they would have hated the muted organ tones as much as the rest of us, then do something different." A live rock band, solo saxophonist, Mum's favourite song barely audible from a tiny ipod dock - we've seen a variety of choices at our natural burial grounds, but importantly they've all been personal and effective. 'Oh but what would the cousins think?' Do not be polite! This is your day so play what is right for you.
You will undoubtedly be overcome with offers to help out, 'if there's anything I can do ...' etc etc. So with all the good intentions on standby, make the most of it and delegate. It will take things off your mind when there's too much going on, and help make those offering feel like they're being useful. Our recommendations would be to have Mrs Jones (who makes the most amazing apple pies) make you an apple pie, Mr Butcher bring you some bacon for the wake's sandwiches, or your breakfast, and get everyone to pitch in for the all important after party. Speaking of which ...
Again, Emma sums it up succinctly, "alcohol was virtually invented for funerals." You've had the service, the burial, the eulogy, now make the most of having all those nearest and dearest all in one place. This can really help it end on a happier note, after all, it is a time to celebrate the life of the person who has died. To get started early, some have given their guests a little 'strong one' as they arrive at the burial ground. Just an idea.
If you've got any good suggestion, we'd love to hear them - get in touch via the 'add comment' link below, and for more ideas and information, have a look at our Funeral Advice pages. You may also like Your Stories - a collection of families' experiences with us.
We'll say no more, and leave it to the video to take it from here . . .
We hope you enjoy it, and of course if you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us.
clad in only natural, biodegradable materials, without toxic preservative treatment and at shallower
depth, to encourage transformation by nature in the living layer of the soil.
Natural Burial Grounds vary greatly in style and approach. The common theme is they offer an area
dedicated to Natural Burial. They range from grazed meadows to memorial gardens, from existing
woodland to land now dedicated to becoming new woodland, from nature reserves within towns to
wild, open country. Ideally each should have a sustainable plan for the long-term future.
Many of us can relate to the idea of being returned to the earth when we die – a bit of gentle
recycling. Others are inspired by a reaction to what they don’t want – the industrialisation of death,
a religious service, or a formal set piece ceremony. Most like the idea that they will not burden the
next generation with a grave to tend. The simplicity and ‘no-fuss’ surrounding natural burial appeals
too. Natural burial grounds offer an informal setting with more time, more space and more meaning;
they are growing in popularity as more people experience this alternative.
All grave locations are plotted and recorded, but the ‘eco-friendly’ stance of natural burial grounds
varies widely. Some allow memorials on the graves, benches and vases; they accept embalmed
bodies, plastic-lined and chipboard coffins. Others are dedicated to preserving the landscape and
maintaining a sustainable future for the land after the income from burials comes to an end – and
may adopt a genuinely environmentally responsible approach.
Although the number of natural burial grounds is increasing every year, the closest might be further
away than your local cemetery, so think about whether the distance of getting there and back is
important to you. For many, the knowledge that the land management takes care of the grave and
that person buried there would appreciate being there means fewer visits are made.
If you like the idea of natural burial, why not call a few operators and visit them ahead of time –
perhaps at different times of the year to see what they feel like through the seasons. Then you can
be sure of finding a site to suit you and your family.
- When choosing a burial ground, ask how the land will be managed in the future and how that will
environmentally sustainable plan for the future.
- If you like the idea of being buried somewhere natural or beautiful where family can visit, why not
Our Henley Burial Woodland went on to win the award, which we are delighted to announce too.
Together with Paula Rainey Croft's 'Lifetime Achievement Award', we believe the results are indicative of the British public's more discerning funeral preferences.
See our two nominated burial grounds here:
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
Family Led Funerals