It's official! The Natural Burial Cemetery Guide is out. The last months of 2016--checking facts and making corrections, agonizing over cover photos and design, made the book feel like the rock Sisyphus eternally tries to push up the hill. Now the rock is at the top and the guide is available in PDF for purchase and download at greenburialnaturally.org. The complete guide lists over 125 cemeteries across the US in 303 pages. You can also purchase it in one of four regions, Northeast, South, Midwest or West. Each edition contains introductory material on green burial and photo illustrations, and the cemetery listings are color coded with maps to help you find the nearest place; you may have to look across regions for something that suits your needs. More cemeteries are coming on line and once enough are available, they will be added in to a new edition. Canada will be available later this year.
Four years ago I stumbled upon the term "green burial" on the internet. I'd never heard of dead bodies being disposed of without formaldehyde-based embalming or environmentally unfriendly concrete burial vaults, in a shroud or biodegradable casket, using the burial to protect or reclaim forest or meadow, in a cemetery which doesn't use pesticides and heavy equipment for landscape. Where graves may be hidden unmarked in the landscape or marked with just engraved fieldstone memorials. Bodies that are not sealed away recycle their nutrients into the soil and help build new life.
Actually I knew nothing then about burial, green or otherwise. I'd rarely set foot in a cemetery and my first forays were timid and full of unknowns. Gradually a general book formed out of my research that wasn't this guide. It took so much time and effort to track down, contact, and visit a handful of cemeteries in the Northeast where I live that I decided to make it easier for people to get themselves and their loved ones buried green. The guide includes lists of funeral homes that work with green burial customers to make it easier to get help with preparing the body.
I buried my father naturally in Steelmantown Cemetery in New Jersey last summer. I would like to be buried naturally myself. I hope the guide encourages more and more people to choose the option and more and more cemeteries to go natural so together we can green up the future of burial.