Sunday, October 28, 2007

It Was Only a Matter of Time

There are green weddings, why not green funerals?

Klara Tammany's mother didn't want a typical American funeral. No embalming, no metal casket, not even a funeral home.

When she died after a long illness a couple of years ago, family members and friends washed and dressed her body and put it in a homemade wooden casket, which was laid across two sawhorses in the dining room of her condo in Brunswick.

Then, for two days, friends and family visited, brought cut flowers, wrote messages on the casket's lid and said goodbye.

"We had this wake, and it was wonderful," Tammany said...

Another alternative that is just emerging in Maine is natural burial in a green cemetery: wooded graveyards that ban chemicals and caskets that won't easily decompose.

Two such cemeteries are now preparing to do natural burials in Maine, in Limington and in Orrington. There are only about six operating green cemeteries in the United States, but many more are planned, according to those tracking the trend.

"I think it's a tidal wave that's coming," Tammany said. "The cultural way of dying and taking care of the dead is changing."

Next weekend, green funerals will be the subject of the annual meeting of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine, a nonprofit group that provides information about alternatives to modern funerals.

The 'Funeral Consumers Alliance?' It sounds like a demographic we all join eventually, but we're probably beyond caring when the day arrives.

It does make scenes like this one easier to imagine:

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