Green Burial

by Xanthippe 15 Replies latest jw friends

  • Xanthippe

    So my cousin gave up her fight against bowel cancer a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday was the funeral. I haven't experienced a green burial before. The idea is you have a quickly biodegradable coffin, she had wicker, and you are buried in a woodland. It's a beautiful place with trees, wild flowers and it's full of birds. You can have a memorial tree planted at the site of your burial and there are no headstones. The tree has a support post where you can have your name engraved so relatives can bring flowers to that spot later if they want to.

    It was quite lovely but very sad. She was only 54 and the cancer treatment didn't work so she wrote her own eulogy and planned her own funeral to help her husband although she totally praised him at the funeral for his support. She thanked her parents for a happy childhood and good education, (never a JW. ) She thanked the Marie Curie and the Macmillan nurses who got her through her last days. There was opportunity to leave a donation. She thanked all her friends and family, neighbours and work colleagues. She described her life from childhood, meeting her husband, working as a teacher. It was cool to here stuff I didn't know. Do you ever think at funerals why didn't I hear this before?

    There was music which was meaniful to her and her husband. As she was a primary school teacher she had a friend read a story she used to read at school to the children about getting over sadness. A couple of friends also spoke up with memories, some funny, which was a light relief. It was very moving and in such a lovely setting with birdsong and trees all around us. About a hundred people came. She requested that none of us wear black and there was no religious element because she was an atheist although she quoted the Dalai Lama about sad times making us stronger. A strong lady, I shall miss her. God knows how her husband and mother will cope.

    It was a long day, we left the house at 7am and got back 11 hours later. I fell asleep on the sofa after dinner and woke with a start thinking, is my daughter alright, is she still alive! She was upstairs, she was fine, it had just been such a heavy day.

    One thing she said in her eulogy which the celebrant read out was, really value life. She said she was enjoying every wild flower while she was dying. Really loving every minute with family and friends. She said she had always wanted to go to Barcelona but didn't make it. She said do the things you have always wanted to do, value every minute of your life. I just wanted to share that and it has helped me writing this down, thanks.

  • Giordano

    Thank you for sharing. It takes a certain quality to embrace one's death. It takes a quality person to enrich those who came to mourn that person.

    A close friend of ours passed away.......... also cancer. She left some simple instructions for her husband. She was to be cremated with no service. She passed in the winter so she wanted her friends and loved ones to meet in her gardens (which are beautiful) in the late spring. Friends would be urged to speak, to share stories laugh even cry.

    The choir she sang in performed. There was food and drink. Everybody left with the memory of this event fixed in their minds. I heard at least three different people say that's what they wanted to happen when they passed.

    Mourning a person is really a private matter....celebrating a person's life should be with friends and family with food and wine. Because we are also celebrating life.

  • St George of England
    St George of England

    So different from a JW Advertising funeral.


  • Dunedain

    WOW, that's some "heavy" stuff. Really puts things into perspective, doesn't it. This really made me think about how it must be like when you KNOW you only have a handful of days left. You must literally cherish EVERY minute. Its sad, and beautiful, at the same time.

    We all go thru every day, usually, taking for granted each minute, and the small pleasures that are most times right in front of us, and at the same time the greatest things in our life.

    I always thought the modern custom of viewing an embalmed body, that's just laying there for all to see, was a bit weird, to say the least. Its just kinda odd to me, and it always seemed forced, in my opinion. Like this is the custom, so lets all just walk up and look at the body, it never sits right with me, no matter how many times I have been to funerals/wakes.

    I also always found that the burials, and graveyards, themselves, are so sterile, monotonous, and odd, as well. Seeing the rows and rows of headstones, is disturbing, to say the least.

    That's why, this experience of this "green burial", seems really nice. I think that planting a tree, and using trees as "markers", is a really cool idea. There seems to be a ton more beauty in this type of funeral/burial. Amongst the woods, and around nature, seems like a great idea.

  • under the radar
    under the radar
    Xanthippe, your post about your cousin's passing and funeral was touching. Very well done. You have quite a way with words.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I like the idea of a green burial. It seems so "respectful," much more so than some of the almost grotesque funeral customs I'm more familiar with.

    I lost my own niece to bowel cancer only a couple of years ago. 34 years old, married with 3 kids. So sad. Cancer is such a horrible, horrible disease.

    My best to you and yours as you deal with your loss. Positive thoughts coming your way.

  • Xanthippe

    Thanks for your thoughts and support guys.

  • cofty

    Thanks for sharing that.

  • Diogenesister

    Agreed xianthippe, you always write striking posts but this one is especially poignant and beautiful. Thank you for sharing...what a marvellous lady she sounds.

    You were lucky to have such a special cousin.

  • DesirousOfChange

    Whether you are a theist or an atheist, Solomon's words about going to "the house of mourning" are true. It reminds us of our own mortality. When you are young, life seems sooo long. But as the decades add up, 40, 50, 60, 70 (if you're so lucky) you really that much of life has passed you by without you taking much notice.

    Sadly for many of us here, a great portion of our life passed us by while we were slaving on the JW hamster wheel.


    The greatest revenge is living a happy & successful life!

  • FlyingHighNow

    Thank you for sharing. This was informative and meaningful. This funeral your beloved cousin planned sounds like it was healing for her to plan and for all of you to attend, strengthening even. Impressive for an atheist to do this, brave making these kinds of plans.

    I think it would be helpful for me to plan my own music, etc. I planned a beautiful thing for my mother, back in 94, even though I was an inactive JW at the time. Mom was not a JW, ever, and I planned it according to how I thought she would feel most understood, appreciated and honored. She didn't know many people anymore, so I asked some of the kinder JWs I knew to attend so there would be more than just family.

    We have a green burial section to the cemetery closest to me. They don't do the tree thing though. They do the plain brass plate thing. I like the idea of the tree, even if you are cremated. In reading about the wicker container, it occurred to me: if we are cremated, we don't leave a record for future scientists to study. They would find a lot of amalgam fillings in my back teeth, for sure.

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