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Friday, February 15, 2008

Natural Return, Shown in Living Color

The typical funeral home sendoff -- with the body chemically embalmed, laid out for view in the metal casket, and then bunkered in a concrete burial vault at the local cemetery -- has been standard practice in this country for the better part of a century now. "Modern" burial has been with us for so long ago, in fact, that it's hard for us Cyberagers to even envision, let alone recall, the more sensible, simple and natural returns that our not-too-distant ancestors followed as a matter of course when death came calling.

The clip below offers a visual resurrection of sorts of that old-time burial, in living color. The segment, from a KQED television show called Quest, follows -- and shows -- a couple of families that revive those early American funeral rites in our own time under the guise of "green" burial.

Given our recent discussion of eco coffins -- which we'll return to next week in this space -- it's interesting to note how the families here have transformed plain, inexpensive cardboard containers into handsome vehicles into the afterlife.

Mark Harris
Author, Grave Matters (

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Facebook page for the book on green burial, Grave Matters, with updates on the growing movement.