Joe Hauser lives in La Crosse, Wis., where nearly all older adults have signed a directive outlining their end-of life plans. Hauser’s kidneys are failing and he doesn’t want to live on a machine, but he’s keeping his options open. Talking about end-of-life care helps people make informed choices and have their wishes heard, hospital staff says.
"…And that gets to the point of why doctors and patients keep talking about end-of-life care in La Crosse: because choices are complicated. Because people’s feelings change about the treatment they want. And the best way to handle that is to know all your options, well in advance of a health care crisis."
“On Friday, a family took charge of their mother’s funeral. They were gathered around for her final breath, and soon thereafter shrouded her body prior to it being moved to the hospital’s morgue. They filled out the death certificate and burial/transport permit and obtained signatures of the necessary officials. They transported her remains on a body board in their station wagon, delivering it to a grave that was hand-dug by her grandson and friends. Family and friends gathered, smudged with sage, said personal remembrances and sacred things, and lowered her body slowly themselves, adding a feather (she loved birds), photos, and flower petals. They covered the grave, planted a winged elm at her head, and placed a picturesque tree burl at her foot. The grave was further marked by a brass surveyor’s disk with her name and dates. Family and friends retired to the Lodge for a meal together, and for further remembrances. The only thing remarkable about all of this is that such a loving, participatory, and natural ending should be remarkable at all.”
-from Green Burial Council certified Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery
Sustainable products for life and death.
Death comes for each of us and it’s a sad and frightening prospect. For the most part, we approach the idea of our deaths with fear and trepidation or not at all. But what if we were to look at our deaths through a different lens?
It’s ironic, then, that when we die, we’re often put into the ground using ecologically unsustainable, expensive materials and using practices that have barely changed since the nineteenth century. Most of us have spent our lives trying to avoid thinking about death, and we’re not choosing to die the way we aspire to live. But an increasing number of people and companies are reinterpreting how we approach the end.
More and more service providers and producers are offering earth-friendly burial services and products, often more affordable than traditional burial services.
Lovely winter photo from Green Burial Council certified provider Ramsey Creek in South Carolina