The first conference to be held in Ireland on Natural Burials was held in the
Cultivate Centre, Temple bar, Dublin in October 2005. The following is an
introduction to Natural Burials by Judith Hoad. Also related to this page is the
programme for the conference, some photographs and some biodegradable coffins.
BURY ME GREEN for
We call ourselves a 'pluralist society'. This really means we are no longer
dominated by one culture; that it is no longer hazardous to have beliefs and
observances that are different from the majority. Being different includes a
variety of beliefs and allows for non-belief. In Ireland, non-believers and
believers of minority faiths - non-Christian, especially - can be at a loss when
someone close dies, because, in general, graveyards and cemeteries cater only
for Christians. In several Western societies provision is made for such folk in
an innovative way: 'woodland', or 'green' graveyards have been established,
generically known as Natural Burial Grounds. Here, areas are set aside for a
variety of trees and shrubs to be planted. When a grave is dug a particular tree
is chosen to be planted over the grave, so that, gradually, a copse is
developed. The actual site can be recorded on a graveyard map and a plaque
erected in a Ceremonies Hall. Ceremonies of any belief system, or non-belief ,
(the Humanists of Ireland publish a very useful book on ceremonies, which
including funerals) can be booked to take place in the hall. TOP
How important it is for us to celebrate the lives of our loved ones when they
die. There's no action re-play of these events, so we need to get it right
first time. Prior arrangement is vital.. This is particularly true for anyone
who hopes to carry D-I-Y to its logical conclusion and to be buried on their own
land. It's wholly possible and totally legal, but the organising of it can take
up to a month, so the process needs attention in the full of your health!
Having experienced home burial, I speak with feeling. Only because we had
written to our County Council - Donegal - to discover how one applied for
permission to be buried on one's own land, was I prepared when my husband died.
In 1993, when we asked the question which I doubt the Council had ever received
before, we were sent a form on which to apply for the extension of an existing
graveyard. The only relevant part was the three basic criteria, which amount to
Common Sense: no burial must take place that would, a) pollute a water source,
b) pollute a drainage system, or c) that it is possible to dig deep enough to
prevent disturbance of the grave by predatory animals, or by farm machinery.
Six years later, when Jerry died, I omitted to do two things: I did not engage
an undertaker, (because it didn't occur to me), and I went ahead without any
further reference to the County Council, whose Health Inspector had passed our
proposed site as feasible about three weeks after we had submitted our
application. The funeral was memorable and described by a neighbour in his 70s
as 'the most loving and respectful funeral I have ever attended'.
In talking with people who wait and then try to fulfil the wishes of their dead
loved ones, two things become evident: prior arrangements are essential for home
burial and funeral directing is a conservative, 'closed shop', in most
instances. For example, some crematoria in the Dublin area will not accept a
coffin that has not been supplied by an undertaker, nor will they accept a
coffin that arrives in any vehicle other than an undertaker's hearse.
The final gift of a friend or relative - to make and, perhaps, to decorate the
coffin, is thus denied. In a 'woodland' graveyard, this is not the case.
But.we do not, yet, have such facilities in Ireland. Is there anyone willing
to donate an acre? Ideally, a donation in each of the Four Provinces. It is
possible, however, to obtain an environmentally friendly coffin/casket.
ECOPODS come in one basic, curvilinear design and five finishes, one of which is
white. Living Earth Funeral Options supplies natural fibre brushes and organic
pigments with the plain Ecopod. All the finishes are ecologically acceptable and
the moulded shell is made of recycled, biodegradable materials. Willow
caskets and cardboard coffins are also available.
If you are concerned about the risks to the environment from chemicals used by
undertakers when preparing a body, enquire, because there are appropriate
chemicals available. Never be put off by 'that's impossible', or 'illegal' -
it probably isn't! Living Earth Funeral Options can also help you here.
Books available from Living Earth Funeral Options include:
Philosophy - With An Irish Guide to Non-Religious Ceremonies
The Dead Good
Funeral Book and
The Natural Death
Enquiries about books and Ecopods, etc. can be made to 074 97 36406