A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GREEN FUNERAL MOVEMENT AND WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
What is old is often new again. Green burial is not a brand new idea, it’s just an idea that got lost and has now been found again. More and more, people are finding comfort by getting involved when it comes to burying loved ones and easing their own grief.
Far from being a radical innovation, however, keeping funeral rites in the family and among a comforting support system is how death was handled in our country until the late nineteenth century. How did these concepts of family funerals and natural burials get lost? What brought us to our current system of handing over our dead to large institutions?
It was the Civil War and the great slaughter of young soldiers on far-flung battlefields that interrupted the American custom of home funerals. Until then, caring for and preparing the dead for burial on family farms or in local cemeteries was both a domestic skill and a family responsibility.
When facing the trauma of the Civil War, American communities wanted to bring their dead home to remember and honor them. That created the need to preserve the body for shipment and a demand for repairing or disguising the mutilations of war as much as possible. From that grew a new profession: The undertaker. Called thus, not because they’re putting someone six feet under, but because someone else, who you could pay, would “undertake” the difficult and emotional task as a service to perform the work for you.
For many, the death of a loved one, always seen as a normal and natural part of life, became an alienating and frightening event. Ultimately, it became sanitized and institutionalized. Americans literally lost touch with death.
The mission of Eloise Woods is to provide natural burials in harmony with nature. We strive to meet the high standards for conservation burial as set forth by the Green Burial Council. At Eloise Woods, burials are only permitted in areas that will not degrade the land. Some areas of the preserve are “off limits” whereas other areas are suitable for cremated remains. These decisions are based on what is best for the ecological restoration of the preserve. The goal of the cemetery is to provide the community with options related to end of life issues that could save time, money, and grief, and give more control and choices to families for a more meaningful experience. Eloise Woods provides an economical, environmentally friendly alternative to modern burial as fewer resources are used in natural burial. As a nature preserve, we will provide wildlife habitat, a clean watershed, and clean air. Our walking trails allow the community to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the preserve. Eloise Woods offers an economical alternative to a modern burial. Our cemetery allows one to be part of a natural cycle.