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|New Wrinkles on Getting Old : Columbia River edition : Monday, 17 June 2019 02:23 PDT : a service of The Public Press|
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New England Burials at Sea offers East Coasters from Maine to Miami the option of having ashes or full bodies disposed of at sea. With ships leaving from a variety of ports, they are fully insured, follow all US Coast Guard regulations, and offer a range of products, including “full-service hospitality package,” that takes all the muss and fuss out of the grieving process.
Greenhaven Preserve outside Columbia, South Carolina eschews the use of vaults in favor of caskets made of biodegradable materials, or even a simple shroud. They also offer advice on non-toxic body preservation.
The concept of “green burials” in its many forms is better developed in the U.K. A leading proponent is Greenfield Creations, a company that says there are now more than 260 burial sites around that offer an alternative to traditional cemeteries. “Natural meadows and woodland burial sites provide a natural environment with no traditional headstones or memorials. The burial grounds welcome all, regardless of religion, faith or belief. They can be used following a traditional church funeral service and many have the facilities for a service within the grounds. You can also scatter or bury ashes following a cremation service. These sites provide a tranquil environment where family members can visit to remember their loved ones.”
Greenfield Creations will also sell you a coffin made of cardboard or wicker. They even feature a “coffin of the week”.
While many of these options are appealing, they come with a variety of individual challenges which can be difficult to sort through. If you want a burial at Greenhaven, for instance, you'll have to figure out how to preserve and to transport the body to South Carolina. The director of your local funeral home will probably not be of much assistance. There is a trade organization called the Green Burial Council, but it is barely ten years old, still in its infancy. “Green Burial” like organic farming or non-toxic living is one of those ancient practices that needs to be re-discovered for our modern age.
As we become more aware of the consequences of resource depletion, it is not surprising that large chunks of carved marble or granite are falling out of favor, and being replaced by more personal and more elegant options. Vermont stone sculptor, Chris Curtis, offers one called Kinen Ishi (pronounced "kih-NEN EE-shee:" Japanese for “commemorative stone”) These are a palm-sized memorial art objects, made of a naturally smooth black Japanese river stone and inlaid sterling silver.
Contained inside the stone and under the spot of sterling silver are the cremation ashes of your loved one. Other small memorabilia, such as a lock of hair, grass clippings from the grave site, or grains of sand from a favorite beach can also be used.
Sculptor Christopher Curtis carefully pieces together these memorial art commemorative stones, and every piece is handmade with great respect for you and your loved one.
Transport these stones anywhere, place them in any location and keep them close for your own comfort. Many choose to keep them in a high profile position in the home, such as on the mantle. Others opt to take them to their office so that they can be reminded about those they care about during stressful work hours. Still others place them in gardens around the home, or hide them at the beloved’s favorite place outdoors.
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