Source: Asheville Citizen Times
Publish Date: April 25, 2016
Once choked with invasive plants, a long, narrow stretch of rolling land in Mills River is undergoing a surprising restoration.
Carolina Memorial Sanctuary is a peaceful place, but its aim is a bit revolutionary: to bring back age-old burial practices that reframe death as a natural part of life and nurture respect for the environment. It’s the first conservation burial ground in North Carolina and one of only a handful nationwide.
The result of over a decade of planning, the sanctuary is a passion project for Caroline Yongue, an ordained Buddhist teacher. Around 20 years ago, she began aiding her Asheville Soto Zen community in the preparation of bodies for burial according to Buddhist tradition. By helping to guide families and friends through the process of tending to a deceased loved one and organizing home funerals, she developed an expertise in facilitating the sensitive decisions surrounding death.
This led her to start the Center for End of Life Transitions, of which she is currently the director. In this role, she and her colleagues serve as “death midwifes and doulas,” in the same way that others play those roles at the beginning of life.