A few years ago I watched as unknown representatives of a local funeral home arrived in their mini-van, came into my childhood family home and black-bagged my Mom on a gurney, rolled her down the drive and shoved her into the van to take her from our lives. I remember watching that van drive away and howling to the world in grief. I regret this treatment of my Mother’s remains every day. It didn’t have to be that way. We could have kept her there in the home she loved, bathed and dressed her, talked to her and prayed and better respected her 83 years of life and all the years of her mothering.
Home funerals allow for the family to retain the body of their loved one at home until they are ready to move the body to the place of burial or cremation. Until the mid-20th century, home funerals were common in the United States. With a home funeral and a green burial there is no need for embalming or expensive funeral home costs. Most people feel they must rush their deceased loved one to the funeral home. This is not true. You can continue to care for your loved one at home, taking the time you need to grieve and anoint or prepare the body, and when you are ready, take the body for burial, cremation, or scatter the ashes at sea with a beautiful memorial on the waves. All aspects of a funeral can be done at home or alternatively by a licensed funeral home. I am a member of the National Home Funeral Alliance and can answer your questions or serve your home funeral needs in the respectful privacy of your own home.
Best said by the Green Burial Council, green, or natural (Eco) burial is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat. Green burial necessitates the use of non-toxic and biodegradable materials, such as caskets, shrouds, and urns. I can assist you in planning a green burial and answer your questions. Green burials are much less expensive than what has come to be “traditional” burials. Call for pricing. Read more:
What does it mean if a cemetery is Green Burial Council certified?
GBC certification allows consumers to be able to distinguish between the three levels of green burial ground and understand that each has a different set of standards. It requires cemetery operators commit to a certain degree of transparency, accountability and third party oversight. And it prevents future owners from going back on whatever ecological or aesthetic promises have been made in the past — from limitations on burial density that protect a local ecosystem to prohibitions against the use of monuments that would negatively impact a viewshed.
What’s wrong with embalming?
The Council does not think any end-of-life ritual, form of disposition, or mode of post-mortem preparation is “wrong”. We are simply advocates for green services and products that help to minimize the environmental impact of our last acts. Embalming fluid is usually comprised of the carcinogen chemical formaldehyde, which has been proven to pose health risks in funeral homes. A study by the National Cancer Institute released in late 2009 revealed that funeral directors have a much higher incidence of myeloid leukemia. Fortunately, there are now several formaldehyde-free embalming fluids, including one made entirely of nontoxic and biodegradable essential oils, which recently earned the GBC seal of approval. The sanitation and preservation of a decedent can almost always take place without the use of chemicals, as is done in just about every nation in the world.
Since burial vaults are made from concrete, shouldn’t they be considered green?
While the concrete and metal in vaults may be considered “natural” to some, the manufacturing and transporting of vaults uses a tremendous amount of energy and causes enormous carbon emission. In this US, vault manufacturing requires the production of 1.6 tons of reinforced concrete. Vaults are not required in GBC-approved hybrid burial grounds, and they are prohibited in natural and conservation level burial grounds. Schedule an Appointment
Traveling Funeral Officiant
I can officiate your funeral, whether home, green or traditional and provide deliver a meaningful, respectful and authentic ceremony anywhere in the Bay Area. I will speak with the family, write and officiate a memorial service that speaks to the life and values of your lost loved one and family. I have done this for many religious traditions including Atheist, Humanist, Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, Evangelical and others. Pricing for funeral officiant services are $145/hr $30/hr travel, including service preparation time. Schedule an Appointment
Burial on the Waves
Burial or release of ashes and memorial at sea has been a beautiful way of releasing the remains of a loved ones for thousands of years. I am licensed by the State of California to distribute ashes upon the waves. You will receive four high definition digital photos of the location and precise GPS coordinates of the site where your loved one (family member, friend or pet) is released to the world. Additionally I will deliver prayers and/or poetry provided by you or written by me. Currently this service is offered as “unattended” by loved ones in the San Francisco Bay or the Pacific Ocean for the cost of $150.
All burials should be conducted solemnly and respectfully. Some people do not want to be laid to rest in a cemetery. They may have spiritual or philosophical reasons choosing a memorial at sea. The sense of freedom that one experiences on the water as your loved one enters the ocean streams of the Earth is indescribable. At the same time, knowing that this release is the most ecologically responsible way to leave this life can give everyone comfort. When the words are spoken the Captain will ring the ship’s bell in keeping with the ancient maritime tradition of signaling the sailor’s last watch has ended and he or she is released from service, free to travel the waves and the stars.
Burial at sea can be done through simple ceremonial pouring of the ashes into the sea, gently launching a biodegradable floating urn or using a natural basket filled with the remains and flowers. The choice is yours.
What if I want to attend the memorial at sea? I will allow up to three people to attend and participate in the memorial at no extra charge – guests of the skipper. Should you should like more I can charter another, larger sailboat and the charge will be $995 for up to six attending passengers and Chaplain Bob as Officiant – memorial service provided. We will sail out of Modern Sailing Club in Sausalito – daylight hours only. Call for details. Schedule an Appointment
“We are all so grateful to you and Leigh for making the memorial so perfect. Dropping the flower laden basket with Dad’s ashes into the Sea as you read the poem was one of the most emotional moments of my life.”
Howard, Memorial at Sea, August 2015
Contact us today to learn more about our healing and memorial services.