Spirit Photography by Michelle and Ricky Schill.

In addition to having worked for hospice, I also worked for a cemetery. This is another job that I found interesting. I cannot say I really enjoyed it but it was interesting. I have to say that I was amazed at many things I heard and saw there.

The first thing that amazed and disturbed me were the tactics of the sales people. They took full advantage of a family’s fresh, raw grief to make more money. I can see this even more clearly now after having to deal with my son’s death. In the beginning of grief, especially those first few days and weeks, you are not thinking clearly and are in a daze. All you can think about is that you want the best for your loved one who has just crossed over.

What we fail to realize is that the moment they crossed over, they immediately had the best. They no longer care about the material things of Earth, particularly things such as grave sites, caskets and vaults. They do not care about the quality or the look of these items and most Spirits have very little attachment to the physical body they have left behind. Yet, the funeral industry insists that your loved one, who no longer inhabits his/her physical body, requires the best for their body, as if they were still in their body.

Another thing I had noticed was that vaults were required to encase the caskets. The grieving families were told how the vault would protect the body of their loved one and would try to push the most expensive vault in order to get the most protection. If one should really stop to think about it, protecting the body defeats the purpose of the benefit to nature that decomposition has. The vault and protecting the body interferes with the cycle of physical life and death in nature. When something which is alive then dies, it is to decompose to nourish the soil so more beings may grow.

I think I was most shocked when I witnessed a disinterment. I did not see the casket opened up but I witnessed the opening of the grave and the vault and casket being pulled out. I cannot begin to describe what was seeping out. I think pouring out would be a more adequate description. Tons of liquid came pouring out and into the ground as the crane lifted it up. This may have been the first time I questioned the purpose of embalming and what it was doing to the environment and the health of humans, animals and plants.

I do not believe there is any vault that can prevent the chemicals that are put into a body after death from seeping out into the ground and then the groundwater. A few years ago my brother told me about green burials and this caused me to think more on the subject. Not only is the price of a “traditional” funeral outlandish and unnecessary, it is harmful.

As I mentioned in a recent post, families would have the wakes in the parlor of their homes. There were a group of women in the town who helped with the preparation of the body and the wake. Afterward, there was the procession to the church and then the cemetery.

This practice began to go out of style during the Civil War. There were many casualties during the Civil War and families wanted their loved ones’ remains shipped home for the viewing and burial. In order to prevent decomposition, they began to embalm the bodies for transport. Embalming became popular as the regular norm after Abraham Lincoln’s remains were embalmed. It was then that funeral directors began to the push the idea that embalming was for public health benefit. In most instances the opposite is true.

In recent history, the cost of a funeral and burial have become so exorbitant that people began to look for a more economical alternative and cremation became popular. Although cremation is a bit better for the environment, it still harms our planet. Cremation requires the burning of natural gases, which emits greenhouse gases. They have come up with a new, more environmentally  safer method for cremation; however, I have not found statistics or much information on it as of yet.

Lately there have been many alternatives arising to burial. Some of them sound a bit bizarre to me and not all are safe for our environment. A few them are following:

  • Resomation – liquefying the body tissue using heated water and  potassium hydroxide and then pulverizing the bones.
  • Natural burial – this is not new but what I consider the original American burial. Burial takes places without the use of embalming or a vault. The body is placed in a biodegradable casket or wrapped in a cotton blanket. These types of cemeteries are becoming more and more popular. There is one such cemetery in the state in which I live. It is a nature preserve and something I am seriously considering for myself.
  • Eternal Reefs – Cremains are mixed with concrete to form reefs and then placed in the ocean.
  • Cryonics – freezing body until a later date in which, hopefully, the medical community has come up with a solution to the ailment which assisted you in crossing over. You may then continue on with your physical life. Uhm, no thanks.
  • Space Burial – a small amount of your cremains can take a ride into space. Or you may opt for the low orbit flight, which allows your cremains to experience zero gravity before returning to Earth. Your cremains may orbit the Earth until they burn up in the atmosphere. I find this option unnecessary as I plan on experiencing the entire Universe after I cross over. My physical body will not be necessary for this adventure.
  • Mummification – DNA is preserved so you may be cloned in the future and have another life. Should I want another life (again, no, thanks), I will not need to be cloned.
  • Plastination – sorry, I don’t get it but it is very similar to mummification.
  • Freeze-drying – remains are put in liquid nitrogen which causes the body to become brittle. Vibration is then used to break down the remains.

The other day my sister told me that she heard your cremains can be made into a plant. I could not find any information on that in the United States, however. I am hoping this becomes more available because this is something I would seriously consider for myself.

I believe we could simplify our choices by having an understanding of what “death” truly is. There is a Spirit Realm and we are eternal beings. We need to understand that our attachment to our bodies will, most likely, be very minimal. The things we may have desired for our remains may not be an issue after crossing over. We must consider what is truly necessary when planning our funerals and burials and take serious consideration of whether or not it is safe for the environment. I know that I do not care to continue to contribute the pollution for my descendants. – Michelle