Cape Cod is a world unto itself. Those who live here have a unique understanding of our beautiful coastal landscape. Forests of pine and oak spill into flowered heathlands that mix with sand plain grasslands running up and down the Massachusetts coast. The Cape's beaches are peppered with gulls scuttling along wet sand and schools of tuna busting in the bays, all thriving side-by-side in a resonance that has spoken to generations of Islanders.
Celebrating Our Surroundings
When people are lucky enough to spend time in such a special place, nature can have a profound effect on how we view life and death. Everything we do has an environmental consequence, including funerals. As our society becomes more conscientious of how precious our environment is, more people are looking to minimize their impact on the earth when they die. If you've lived an eco-conscious life, you may want to be celebrated in death in a more sustainable way, too.
By preplanning your own funeral service, you can design a ceremony that reflects the values you held in life. It also removes the burden and guesswork from family and friends who must decide how you would want to be remembered.
What is a Green Funeral?
Green funerals, also called eco-friendly funerals or natural burials, is a relatively new term that came into use in the United States around the turn of the century. However, it's the oldest form of burial, shared with the earlier humans.
The goal of a green funeral is to ease the environmental impact of the burial and other aspects of the funeral services. By removing unnatural chemicals and manufactured materials from the process, you create a more natural, sustainable goodbye. The body is typically not embalmed; however, biodegradable embalming fluids have recently been made available.
Instead of a conventional casket, people may use a shroud or a biodegradable casket for the burial. A simple wooden casket without metal or varnish is a popular choice. The body is then placed directly into the ground at a shallower depth, above the water table. This allows the body to breakdown faster and naturally.
A green burial isn't the only way you can plan a more sustainable funeral. Some people choose to forgo a gravestone, instead using a natural wooden marker or planting a tree. Other things you can do to reduce your funeral's carbon footprint include carpooling instead of using a funeral procession, using digital funeral announcements instead of paper ones, or purchasing locally grown flowers for the ceremony and recyclable cups and plates for any food that will be served.
Not every green funeral looks the same. You can choose the elements that are the most important to you.
Green Burials on the Cape
Local governments often have their own guidelines for green burials. On the Massachusetts coast, our delicate ecosystems especially need protection, and it's important to understand the environmental considerations that come with a green burial. Depending on where you live, some sandy coastal areas require additional grave support materials. Special permits and fees may apply.
Cemeteries also have their own rules when it comes to green funerals and memorialization. At Chapman Funerals & Cremations, we work alongside you and your family to help you understand the options you have for an eco-friendly burial in your area.
Preplanning a Green Funeral
Planning any type of funeral or memorial service requires time, thoughtfulness, and dozens of decisions. When a family is grappling with their loss and grief, having to plan the funeral services can be extremely overwhelming. Making your funeral arrangements in advance helps relieve your family from the responsibility.
Preplanning any kind of funeral has benefits, but preplanning green funerals carry unique considerations. Because preserving chemicals are not used, families may need to have the burial take place soon after the death occurs. Extended refrigerated storage comes with a bigger price tag and may make a public viewing or wake not possible. Compared to a traditional burial or cremation, green burials leave less time to plan, which may make it difficult to make travel plans for guests coming from out of town.
By taking care of your funeral arrangements long before the time comes, you take the burden of planning off your family's shoulders. If you choose to prepay, you also gift your family a service that not only reflects your exact wishes, but you free them from the financial burden, too. By paying for your funeral today, you lock in your price and avoid inevitable inflated prices in the future.
If you want to lessen your impact on the environment after death, Chapman can help you design a green funeral and burial that will do justice to your life and the wildlife we share a home with, providing your loved ones with a more peaceful, more meaningful goodbye.
In life, some things will inevitably change, and one day your family will have to deal with a profound adjustment when you're gone. But some things should never change, like providing for them in their times of need. Or, the natural beauty of this incredible place we call home. We've seen the ebbs and flows of life on the Cape for over a century, and we've been there to help our communities keep going.
If you'd like to learn more about preplanning, funerals, or cremations, reach out to us online or call the closest Chapman Funerals & Cremations near you in Falmouth, West Falmouth, Mashpee, Martha's Vineyard, Wareham, Harwich, Yarmouth, Marstons Mills, Nantucket, Bridgewater, or East Bridgewater.