https://www.waff.com/2020/02/2...back-natural-burial/

WASHBURN, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) - An east Tennessee burial preserve goes back to the basics by offering a “simpler, more natural” way of burying the dead -- no casket, no embalming and no cost.

In 2007, Bill Nickle, the founder of Narrow Ridge Center, a nonprofit organization established to teach sustainability, set aside five acres of land in Washburn for a natural burial preserve.

Five years later, Tennessee established Narrow Ridge as a community cemetery, and it has operated as such ever since. It's not like most cemeteries out there. It's a "green" cemetery, which its operators say means people buried there can't be embalmed or placed in a casket.

"When people died, they had home funerals and buried them within 26-36 hours and in a natural way," Bill Nickle told WVLT. "There was no embalming. There was no metal casket, no concrete vaults, and that was the way it was."

A report states the average funeral in the U.S. costs between $7,000 and $12,000, as expenses for caskets, burial plots and funeral services become more exorbitant. Some have turned to cremation, as 44 percent of Americans say they plan on going that route.

"There comes a point where we all kind of go, 'Wait a minute, does it have to be this way? Why does it have to be so complicated?'" Narrow Ridge director Mitzi Wood-Von Mizener said.

That's not the case at Narrow Ridge. Family and friends can dig a grave by hand and close it after their loved ones are buried for free. If they would like help, Narrow Ridge says it connects the family with a contractor who will dig and close the grave for $250. Narrow Ridge said the money is paid directly to the contractor, and the organization receives no funds. While the plot is free, Narrow Ridge encourages those who can to make a donation to their mission.

The preserve takes a more simplistic view of death and dying. With no casket required, a thin covering separates those interred at Narrow Ridge from the dirt.

"At the simplest level," Mitzi said, "we've had a couple of people wrapped in a sheet, and then we've had shrouds, which would be a more ceremonial covering."

Those at Narrow Ridge said their process is a more healing way to grieve. "Putting it into the grave and actually putting soil on the body if you so choose, all of that is part of the grieving process," Nickle said. "It's a lot more healing, I think, than being totally isolated from the death of a loved one."

Narrow Ridge operators said the commercialized process of death and the disconnect that Americans feel with the idea prompted them to offer a more bare-bones way to handle it. Bill Nickle said the concept isn't new.

"This is the way we've done it for thousands of years. Can we not continue to do that?"

Only about four percent of Americans plan on having a natural burial like what’s offered by Narrow Ridge, but as Americans become more eco-conscious, Narrow Ridge said that could change.

Last year, Forbes reported that 77 percent of people globally want to live more sustainably, including 40 percent of millennials and 43 percent of Generation X.

That drive is prompting more people to turn to natural burial, or at least opening their eyes to the possibilities.

“Consumers of funeral services are now going to conventional cemeteries and are saying, ‘yeah, I need your services. I don’t want to pull off a funeral all on my own, but can we do it without embalming, and can I choose a biodegradable casket?’” Mitzi said. “Many people don’t know they have another option, and they find meaning in being buried in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the planet.”

Natural burial, she said, can be a way to honor the earth and the cycles of life and death.

Copyright 2020 WVLT via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

I kinda like the idea of this. 


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"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality." Edgar Allan Poe.

Original Post

I can think of only a few concerns with the “natural” method one of which is if there was ever the possibility of needing to exhume a body in the future for say further analysis or investigation in case of a concern about foul play.  Also the embalming of a body ensures that no one will ever be buried alive which has happened at times before (although very rare).  I can see the benefits of the natural way, cost being prime, but I can also see some valid reasons for the embalming process.   For myself I’ve always thought about cremation but I don’t know if my family totally agrees with that method.

Years ago Eskimos would shove the soon to be departed out to sea on
an iceberg, those non tax payers without a retirement plan were set
adrift. A polar bear takeout order if you will, at a table for one.
They believed it was a humane way to deal with it.
 
If it were me I'd have a triple speed ball ready to drop at the first sign
of moving white fur in the water.
 
 It's their own fault for the ridiculous high cost today for a average burial.
Too many people can't afford it, many go into dept for a long time and
does put unreasonable stress on the family. After all, it should be more
of a celebration than a bankruptcy.

Not sure about Tennessee laws, but in Alabama, most funeral homes won't allow a viewing if body isn't embalmed. It's also illegal to transport across state lines. So if you die in Alabama and want to be buried in Collinwood (Hey! who wouldn't?), you're going to have to be embalmed.

Years ago in this state, it was law that at body had to be in embalmed to be cremated. The AIDS epidemic pretty much changed all that.

gbrk posted:

I can think of only a few concerns with the “natural” method one of which is if there was ever the possibility of needing to exhume a body in the future for say further analysis or investigation in case of a concern about foul play.  Also the embalming of a body ensures that no one will ever be buried alive which has happened at times before (although very rare).  I can see the benefits of the natural way, cost being prime, but I can also see some valid reasons for the embalming process.   For myself I’ve always thought about cremation but I don’t know if my family totally agrees with that method.

Same problem if you are cremated.  I too am going that route “cremation” also.

Back when cremation was catching on in a big way the price it also
jumped too high for what it was. Once more they take advantage of
a very emotional time. 

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