Mountain Xpress article featuring our director Caroline Yongue, and our provider of eco-friendly cardboard coffins, Carol Motley from Mourning Dove Studios/Bury Me Naturally.
Publish Date: October 27, 2015
As the spirits of our ancestors fill the air and the brain-eating undead of zombie movies entertain us this Halloween, consider a more down-to-earth topic: In Western North Carolina, a number of nontraditional and eco-friendly options have arisen for managing the death process — including green burial, in-home funerals, death doulas and midwives, and conservation burial grounds.
“We’ve been kind of brainwashed to think it [death] is a scary thing,” says Caroline Yongue, director and founder of the Center for End of Life Transitions. “I think it’s because we’ve given death care away; we don’t see it in the home anymore,” she says. Movies and TV play a role, Yongue continues. “You know the music changes when death happens; if there’s a scene at a funeral home, the music is scary,” she says.
In some ways, our current funeral practices are the scary part. According to Final Passages, a nonprofit that advocates for green burial practices, 30 million board feet of hardwoods, 90,272 tons of steel and 2,700 tons of copper and bronze are buried each year with caskets — along with nearly a million gallons of embalming fluid, which commonly contains formaldehyde, a carcinogen that can contaminate soil and groundwater.
“There’s a whole movement afoot to pay more attention to being kind to the earth,” says Michele Skeele, who cites such statistics in her green-burial classes. She’s a creative death educator, death doula, board secretary of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western North Carolina and a therapeutic music practitioner. “People are much more aware of where our food comes from and what we are consuming,” says Skeele. “So it just follows through that we would also pay attention to how our bodies are disposed of.”
Read the full article here.