Funeral Director Question:
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Suppose I am interested in a "green" burial. No embalming, no vault, burial within 24-48 hours, biodegradable casket. Can this sort of burial be pre-planned so I wishes will be granted and no fussing within the family?

Answer:

There has been more interest in that sort of disposition recently. I have read a couple of articles about the practice of green burial, but I'm not aware of any public cemeteries offering that option in the Triangle region.

Because no casket will withstand the weight of the soil, most traditional cemeteries require an outer burial container. It is both a matter of surface maintenance and a concern should there be a disinterment requested at some future date. However it does not have to be a protective vault. A two piece concrete grave liner meets the cemetery requirement.

I believe the Jewish tradition follows the idea of green burial in that it is held that the body should return to the earth in a natural progression; neither retarded by preservation nor sped up by cremation. Embalming is not required in most cases. But without embalming, the funeral director can refuse to offer public viewing.

Wood is of course biodegradable and there are many choices of wood caskets. Jewish caskets are meant to be of simple design and are made without any metal fasteners. A green cemetery may offer other options.

You do need to be aware however that there will be someone who will have the ultimate legal authority to determine the disposition of your body upon your death. That person (or people) would normally be your next of kin. So once again, you should talk with your family about your wishes.

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