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July 17, 2019, 12:34 PM

For the past year or so, Bobbi and I have given some thought (and action) to our eventual death, burial, and funeral. This topic is often viewed with anxiety and the reluctance to talk about it. However, everyone dies, whether we talk about it or not.

             So many questions, not the least of which, “How and where should we be  buried?” We have moved so often that committing to a geographical location has been prohibitive. However, last summer we traveled to Goldendale to visit the White Eagle Memorial Preserve, a natural burial cemetery in a beautiful forest. It’s a three and half hour trip but worth the experience. The plots are larger than a city cemetery. The families are much more hands-on involved with the whole process, claiming the death rituals that used to be the norm before the twentieth century. The preserve provides a wooden cart to carry the body from a vehicle through the forest to the plot. Bodies are usually wrapped in a shroud and not embalmed. Only biodegradable materials are allowed as the body will eventually return, dust-to-dust, ashes-to-ashes. The families are encouraged to help fill the grave after the service. (For more information about the White Eagle Memorial Preserve and natural      burials, see:

I must admit that when we first heard about natural or green burials, it seemed strange. But then we began reading and thinking about how communities over history participated in the final destination of our bodies. It seems that for most of history the living were much more hands-on with accompanying the dead to their final resting place. This allowed people to not only remember, but also to bare the person up in their last journey.

Natural burials are not the only way to do this. One of my minister friends has designed and created ceramic urns for himself and his wife. Other friends have released cremated ashes into the wind in beautiful and memorable settings. Many people will choose traditional burials in beautiful local cemeteries where family members can be placed to rest in the ground, mausoleum vaults, or cremains niches.

As a Christian, I am learning that there are ways of being more hands-on for the person who has died. We may not be comfortable with this discussion but I think it is worth some serious thought, prayer, study, and talk


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