I recently had a brief conversation with my family about what we'd want done with our bodies when we die. How morbid, right? I think exploring the topic is somewhat fascinating. This type of discussion doesn't come up often, but again, I think it's important. People usually consider two options (or a combination of the two): a) traditional burial in a cemetery plot or b) cremation. What many people don't know is there's a third option: natural burial.
What is natural burial? The Centre for Natural Burial defines it as "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." Typically, one's body is: a) not embalmed, and as a consequence, buried rather quickly after death, and b) buried in some form of biodegradable material. It's not a new method historically, although as far as I know it's not common to most western European cultures.
I originally heard about the concept of natural burial from the HBO TV series Six Feet Under (in which the main character, Nate, is buried this way). Additionally, there's a great book entitled Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (it's referenced in Six Feet Under, as well). I highly recommend both - they are a bit morbid but very entertaining! I soon plan to read Grave Matters by Mark Harris.
|Photo from Cedar Brook Burial Ground web site|