Green Funerals and Natural Burial (Video Transcription)

My name is Shari Wolf and I am the founder of Natural Grace Funerals. We are a funeral home here covering the Los Angeles area offering exclusively environmentally friendly death care options for families.

Green burial or natural burial, which is often an interchangeable term, is, in its practical sense, a way for us to care for our dead and allowing the body to go back to the earth in a simple, natural fashion with minimal environmental impact. The biggest difference between what we do at Natural Grace and conventional funeral services is that we do not embalm the bodies. So the bodies are kept preserved through refrigeration and the family still has the option for a private or a public viewing, and this can be incorporated into any kind of funeral service that a family would like to have. So we work with families that have very traditional, religious services to very just simple get-togethers, celebrations of life, etc.

The three components of a green burial would be an unembalmed body, wrapped either in a shroud or a biodegradable container, and then put directly into the earth.

There are basically three different types of burial grounds, coined by the Green Burial Council, as being a hybrid, natural and a conservation. And hybrids are when you have a conventional cemetery, for example, that will set aside an area where they will allow for vaultless burial, they will allow for the decedent to be buried either in a shroud or a very simple biodegradable container, and then of course the body is not embalmed. With a natural burial ground, you have a complete natural setting. And, for example, as you would look across a natural burial ground, you would not see the large headstones. If there's a marker on top of the grave, then it would be a natural stone from that area. And then the next level of burial ground is conservation, and with those burial grounds, the funds that are put into the burial of that family member go on to actually purchase and preserve more land.

Many of the natural burial grounds also allow for family participation, and that may be even as simple as helping to fill back in the grave. And families ask to be part of a natural burial very often. Some of them will even mention that it has been a life changing event. So to be a part of a natural burial, whether it's a home funeral aspect, and to be close to someone that has not been embalmed, or to be out in a natural setting and be participating in a burial leaves them with a different experience. And as we all know, we're all uncomfortable with death, but somehow with both of those aspects, people are able to embrace what they are experiencing and actually feel part of it, and feel that they come away with some healing and with some solace.