Here in the UK, cremation accounts for about 75% of all funerals, but there is a growing desire for a more natural and ecological approach to death and dying. Not far from me in East Lothian there is a natural woodland burial site called Binning Memorial Wood, and I’ve been privileged to conduct a number of ceremonies there in recent years.
There is a famous phrase in The Book of Common Prayer that is in our collective subconscious; ‘earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. It was written in a time before science, but it’s rather wonderful that science can now show that it was more than merely poetic truth.
Carl Sagan in the 1970’s and more recently Brian Cox have told television audiences around the world that we human beings are made from the same material as the stars, and when we die, we revert to those elemental materials which then combine to create new life in their turn.
Last year, I was interviewed by Vicky Allan for the book she wrote with photographer, Anna Deacon called ‘For the Love of Trees’ and Vicky quoted me as saying that this move towards natural burial speaks to “our desire to really return to the earth and be reborn”. That idea of life coming from death is an inspiring one, and I believe one whose time has come. In this country at least, woodland burial is the only kind of funeral that ensures that can happen, which is why I have decided to become ‘A Supporter of the Natural Death Centre’.
They’re probably best known for providing all the information you need if you want to conduct a funeral yourself, but they also have a list of every single natural burial ground in the United Kingdom and a list of recommended funeral directors as well.
Please do take a look at their site and if you find their resources helpful, let me know.