Alternative Funerals and Green Burials
What we in North America consider a ‘traditional’ funeral, is in actual fact a fairly recent phenomenon. In most of the world, including much of continental Europe, what we call an Alternative Funeral is the traditional funeral, embalming is not carried out and families and friends care for their deceased and pay their last respects at a home wake. We are experiencing a growing interest in returning to this more simple, spiritual, family-focused practice.
"During my journey through the ever changing landscape of caring for my loved one, Barb shared her specialized skills, knowledge and expertise. She guided me and my husband's family and friends in preparing for his death through the palliative at home stage, death at home, after death care for a home funeral, vigil, and disposition. As a Celebrant she officiated and helped create plans for a meaningful memorial gathering.
"Through this most difficult time, Barb was a pillar for me. Her words often underlined the beauty of this sacred journey, and her guidance allowed us to engage in this rite of passage in such a meaningful way.
"Barb's warm, caring and supportive ways also helped me keep my focus for all the paperwork involved. She has a gift for the tender work involved in dealing with the dying and the living who care for them. Thank you Barb." ~ Madeleine Thibault-Smith
Green funerals and burials are also a growing trend as society becomes more mindful of our carbon footprint and the impact we have on the planet.
A "Green" or alternative funeral and burial is an environmentally conscious approach to the final arrangements and disposal of the body in keeping with the deceased’s personal values. The body is not embalmed with toxic chemicals, which usually contain formaldehyde – known to cause health risks to those working in the funeral industry. Only biodegradable funerary products are used. Burial occurs without a cement burial vault or the use of metal or non- sustainable hardwood caskets. Often, families choose to use a shroud, make a casket, or purchase a cardboard casket, which they can decorate as a loving and meaningful tribute to the deceased.
I offer care, support and guidance before, during and after the death of a loved one and in my role as a certified celebrant, I can also officiate at funeral and burial proceedings.
I would consider it an honour to meet with you to discuss how I can guide and support you through the process of a family-directed home funeral and Green burial.
- Caring for a loved one at home after death is legal in Ontario. Families are perfectly within their rights to have the body of a loved one lie at home until burial or cremation.
- Embalming is not essential, nor required by law, and has a negative environmental impact. Dry ice is an inexpensive and easily accessible alternative which can be used to keep the body cool at home.
- The average cost of conventional funeral care in Canada (including casket and taxes; excluding burial or cremation costs) is approximately $6500 while a home directed, alternative funeral costs approximately $1000 - $1500.
- In Ontario, a family member can make all arrangements and decisions regarding the after-death care of their loved one, including completing and filing necessary documents and transportation of the deceased (in any vehicle) to a home, place of ceremony, crematorium, or cemetery.
- Traditional caskets/coffins are not required by law for burial.
- A family can choose to do all, or just part of the after-death care. For example, you may wish to care for your loved one’s body at home, but hire the services of a funeral home to provide transportation of the body to the church, cemetery, or crematorium.