Tag Archive | natural death

Always Have an Exit Plan

This is my wedding dress.

This is also the dress that I will be buried in*.

No one wants to think of their own mortality, however the saying is true. Nothing is more constant than death and taxes… (And I’m sure the GOV will figure out how to tax the dead eventually!!) My family was very open about death when I was young, so I was always pretty cool with the fact they and I would die someday. At least in discussion. The openness about death does make things a tad bit easier when a family member departs, as there are many choices you need to make, at the most vulnerable time of your life, coupled with the possibility of running into a  predatory funeral home. It was easier for me in these respects, as my Mother passed in 2006 and not only had a End of Life Plan (Living Will) and had let me know the wishes for her body after death. These choices were already made BY HER and I was only abiding by them.

I wanted to post about this, as I have a very different view on death (I’m atheist), body handling, et all… I’ve always wanted a Natural or Green Burial. In short: Dead me, hole, cover, worm food. Done. 😉 In long, first, there is a difference in the terms natural and green burials. A natural burial can occur within a traditional cemetery, but a green burial requires a special cemetery (organic lawn and ornamental maintenance practices, in short). I’m OK with either.

The terms natural burial and green burial are often used interchangeably. Although they are similar, they are actually two different types of burial option. “Natural burial” strictly refers to the actually burial process. This means the opening and closing of the grave, the preparation of the remains, and the laying of those remains in the burial plot. “Green burial” refers to this process but also to the cemetery in which the burial takes place. A “green cemetery” uses no artificial pesticides and none of the bodies buried in a green cemetery can have been embalmed or buried in a traditional casket. From The National Network of Cemeteries

I’ve found two, local cemeteries that do natural burials. In one, you can even be buried with your pet! Here’s the link to the best North American cemetery search I could find. Other lists tended to be lacking. If you are in another country, be sure to search more than one ‘cemetery list’, no one site was complete, IMO.

My full exit strategy is this:

  • If the consensus is I’m not fully there, pull the plug. Donate any good bits of me that can benefit anyone. Lastly, remember, I DO NOT want any formaldehyde put in me, so be sure to store me in a refrigerator!
  • By law in Illinois, I must use a funeral director, which the cemetery I want to rest in has on staff. As I want a natural burial, which does NOT include formaldehyde, my alternative is getting put into refrigeration. I don’t want to be viewed inside in a box. I want to be dressed in my wedding gown, wrapped in a blanket my Mother crocheted and laid in nature. Please include seasonal, native wildflowers or evergreens, in the event I die in winter.
  • After the party is over, the gown and blanket will be removed (not biodegradable) and I will be buried directly in the ground. I may have a piece of artwork made to commemorate the location, however not a traditional headstone.  On average, this will run about $5,500.00 (without art), much less than a traditional funeral.

I’m so happy that the times have finally caught up with my thinking!! I swear, 10 years ago, I couldn’t find anywhere offering a natural burial.

The only hiccup I can think of in my plan is that I plan to be traveling the country in my later years. This means I may croak in Arizona and need to be brought back up to Illinois. The hard part is to be sure the hospital/local mortician understands my wishes, along with state laws that may hinder my exit plan. Since it’s the ‘norm’ to be formaldehyded, maybe I should have those wishes tattooed on the bottom of my foot… Ha!!

That pretty much describes my exit plan. Do you have yours? Do you want to learn more?

All of my inspiration for this post came from a YouTube channel called, “Ask a Mortician”. Not only does Caitlin Doughty have perfect hair, she is so entertaining… considering the serious nature of the topic. I’ve already binge-watched the whole series and subscribed… Yes, I’m a fan! (A ‘Deathling’ as Caitlin calls us) I’ve learned so much from her videos, including:

Victorian folks liked to be photographed post mortem? Crazy!

If your Saint is corrupt or incorrupt. I’m not Catholic, however, it was still very interesting.

By far, the Sky Burials of Tibet are the most beautiful of burials. Your body is first seasoned, then placed on the cliffs for the vultures to devour. 😉 Not exactly available in the States yet.

Here’s something I would have never-ever-ever thought about: Coffin birth, also known as postmortem fetal extrusion. She has a video about it.

  • This video describes how in the 1600’s, a woman’s wedding dress was often times also her death shroud.


© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl