For some, not of the options that have been previously outlined are quite right. Some prefer a purely and totally natural option. This has given rise to the “green” funeral and burial.
For some individuals, the concern with chemicals leeching into the ground and the “unnatural” aspect of preserving remains is at odds with the cycle of nature. They would prefer to become one with the ground, providing nutrients for the plants and trees above them. The goal is to limit the environmental impact of the entire funeral process.
In Michigan, a funeral director must sign the death certificate and oversee the transportation of the deceased to the cemetery. The family may, especially if the individual died at home, wash and prepare the body as was done in the old days. It may also be necessary to take steps to chill the body to slow decomposition. While this may seems to many today as an uncomfortable task, there is much written by those who have done this for loved ones. They have found it comforting and it has assisted them in having closure.
A green burial involves being interred in a biodegradable container such as unfinished wood, cardboard, a wicker basket or none at all. The body itself would be placed into cotton clothing or a shroud. All materials must be natural.
Some opt for no container, being wrapped in a shroud and simply lowered directly into the ground. Again, for some, this is not a comfortable conclusion for the body of a loved one. For others, there is peace and satisfaction in knowing that they are becoming one with the earth.
For those who have opted to be cremated first, there are biodegradable urns which are designed to degrade and minimize the impact upon the environment.
If you have opted to be buried upon your own property, as was outlined earlier, your family may conduct its own service and lower your body into the ground.
Additionally, there are, in Michigan, “green” cemeteries. One is here in Northern Michigan on Old Mission Peninsula. A gravesite can be purchased from Peninsula Township.