I've been slacking on my blogging day recently (although Bret's been doing a good job of pick up that slack) and feel like it's high time I help carry the weight of yhmmgo (wow, I don't think anyone has made that acronym yet).

I've always thought about if and how I'd like to be buried but I've always had problems with the usual ways of doing it. First of all burials can be insanely expensive, the casket alone can be thousands of dollars and then the burial spot and all the other cost involved can easily reach $10,000. Seems like a burden to your family to me. The other problem I've had with being buried is with the land use issues. Here in the U.S. cemeteries are for all intensive purposes off limits and usually take up huge amounts of land. I offer this as an example:

This is right in the middle of Chicago and there are eight cemeteries, and just look at the size of Rosehill! Imagine if all that land was filled with parks, or wetlands, or gardens, but no, it's filled with dead people and really expensive exotic wood caskets. I do concede that this land is usually open and you can walk around freely, but how often do you go there? And how usable is the land with all those mausoleums? Thinking about kicking around the soccer ball? Forget it, it will puncture! Also watch out for security! In addition to all this there's a huge environmental impact. Here are some facts courtesy of our friends at wikipedia:

Each year, 22,500 cemeteries across the United States bury approximately:
30 million board feet (70,000 m³) of hardwoods (caskets)
90,272 tons of steel (caskets)
14,000 tons of steel (vaults)
2,700 tons of copper and bronze (caskets)
1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete (vaults)
827,060 US gallons (3,130 m³) of embalming fluid, which most commonly includes formaldehyde.

I've told myself that I'd be buried in the ground if one day I owned some wild wooded tract of land were I could be put there without being a disruption to others. Lately there's been a larger movement to change some common practices in how we are buried. People are calling it "natural" or "green" burial, I like the direction this is going.

How about this for an idea?

When you're buried, you just go straight in the ground, no metal or fancy wood casket. Above you they plant a tree and as your body returns to dust it feeds the tree above you. Instead of cemeteries we have forests and thanks to legislation, they'll be protected forever. Sounds awesome to me. Let it become public knowledge, when I Daniel John Bracken Jr. die, this is the way I'd like to be laid to rest, with a tree growing above me surrounded by other trees.


Aaron said...

We have the same sentiments on how we want to be buried. I have been saying it for 2 years. Sounds great to me!

Heather said...

I've not seen anyone put up a map before and ask the reader to imagine if it were wetlands! That is awesome.

I run an online memorial, RememberWell.net and keep a blog about home funerals and green burial, RememberWellnet.wordpress.com. I read all kinds of stuff every day but never has it been put like you have. I'm going to link to you post and then email it to Joe Sehee of the Green Burial Council. The green burial movement is working to do just what you imagine.
Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

So the person who arranges your funeral will be a green mortician...roflmao...sorry I couldn't help myself...I like your plan, just think how less depressing a forest of trees would be compared to acres of headstones - although I do like old headstones so you could put a marker by your tree....mine should say "I told you I was sick"....Have a Happy Michaelmas!

Anonymous said...

mm mm mmm. So much earnest, good thought here. Thanks for this post.

...its not you, its your narrative said...

Yes! This is great stuff to think about. Mindfulness toward the follow of every day life. I pass by these exact cemeteries every day... what if we dug up the graves, buried the remains in the soil and planted trees to mark each one? Is there a grant for a project like this? Great post Dan. Food for thought!

Is that a Jitka image?

brackattack said...

MJ - I don't know, I just stole it from flickr.