There are a few questions and answers below that may make you feel uncomfortable reading regarding Green Cemeteries, Eternal Reefs, and Home Funerals.
GREEN CEMETERY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q. What kind of burial containers are used?
A. In a natural burial, the body is laid to rest in a 100% biodegradable container such as a simple sustainable wooden, woven, fiber, or cardboard casket. Or a natural cloth shroud may be used.
Q. If a green cemetery doesn’t use the traditional metal caskets, where would one purchase a biodegradable one? Also, how much would they cost?
A. The Death Store (on Maui) sells beautiful biodegradable caskets. The sustainable wooden ones are crafted by Bodhi Be. The wooden and fiber caskets range from $400 to $1,800. Children’s caskets are $250 to $300. Cardboard containers are $60 to $75. A viewing casket is $150.
The current options for caskets are bamboo, seagrass, and wicker, as well as locally crafted pine and mahogany caskets.
For a list of other companies selling biodegradable caskets, visit the Vendor’s page.
Q. What kind of shrouds can be used?
A. The shroud must be of natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk, bamboo, hemp). You can choose a favorite quilt, blanket, or large piece of natural fiber cloth. You can also purchase a shroud, sew one, or make a body bag. The body must be securely wrapped in the shroud from head to feet.
Q. What types of cremation urns do you have? What are the price ranges and types?
A. The Death Store (on Maui) has urns that range from simple and inexpensive to handcrafted and locally made. Many are biodegradable. Some are made to dissolve in the ocean, and some are made to degrade in the earth.
Sometimes the family keeps a small portion of ashes, and The Death Store offers glass beads and jewelry created by a local artist for containing them. One option is for you to bring the ashes to the artist and witness the creation of the jewelry.
The cremation urns range from $25 to $500.
For a list of other companies selling cremation urns, visit the Vendor’s page.
Q. Is embalming necessary?
A. No. Embalming is not necessary in the United States. However, if the body is transported across state lines, then embalming may be required.
Q. May the family and loved ones participate in the burial?
A. Yes, we encourage the family and friends to participate at whatever level they feel comfortable. Prior to the burial/cremation they can wash and anoint the body, dress the body, and create a ceremony or ritual.
Once the body has been prepared for its final resting place, the family and friends can assist with building and decorating the casket, digging the hole, lowering the casket into the ground, and sprinkling or shoveling dirt over the body or casket. Then the family and friends can assist in planting the memorial tree.
If the body will be cremated, then the family can meet at the crematory and help to roll the body into the furnace and push the button that ignites the fire.
Participating at these levels helps the natural grieving and healing process.
Q. How soon does a loved one have to be buried or cremated after death?
A. If the burial or cremation doesn’t happen within 30 hours, the law requires the body to be refrigerated. You can turn your AC to the coolest setting, or surround the body with freezer gelpacks or dry ice. You may also contact a funeral home, like Doorway Into Light (on Maui), and have the body placed in their refrigeration unit.
Q. What is the cost for a natural burial?
A. Far less expensive than a traditional burial. The price for a green burial on Maui when utilizing the services of Doorway Into Light will be $1,200, not including the burial plot. Burials and cremations will be discounted for our veterans, as well as for the homeless.
Q. What is the depth of the burial?
A. All burials will occur at a depth of approximately 3 to 4 feet, since the top of the casket will then be 2 to 3 feet deep thereby ensuring that the nutrient layer is raised to a higher soil stratum where microbes and oxygen can expedite the decomposition process. Since the smell barrier is 18 inches of soil, anything covered by 18 inches or more of soil will be undetectable to human or animal noses (with the exception of bears, which Maui doesn’t have).
Q. What is the grave/burial size?
A. In the burial groves, every 17 to 20 feet across can be a burial site and a native tree will be planted. This will allow for approximately 125 to 200 burials per acre.
Q. Can two people be buried in the same spot/grave?
A. If they die at different times, then it will depend on what has been planted over the first grave. If a tree was planted then two people can’t be buried in the same spot. However, if a shrub was planted then that will make it possible for two people to be buried in the same grave.
Q. How safe is it to bury a body that died from disease? Won’t it contaminate the land and water?
A. The disease dies when a person dies, so burying will not cause any damage to the land or the water.
Q. When the green cemetery on Maui is complete, can we bury our pets in the cemetery?
A. Yes. We will honor your pet(s) they can be buried, or their ashes can be buried or scatter in the cemetery.
Q. How would ashes of a loved one fit into a green burial cemetery?
A. As above, the ashes can be buried or scattered.
ETERNAL REEF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q. What is an Eternal Reef?
A. An Eternal Reef is a designed reef of 100% natural cast concrete that can include the cremated remains of a loved one and/or pets. Eternal Reefs create new marine habitats for fish and other forms of sea life.
Q. Why choose an Eternal Reef?
A. The reasons for choosing an Eternal Reef as a final memorial are as varied as the individuals and families making the choice. Rather than passing an urn down to future generations or taking space in a cemetery, this memorial is a true living legacy.
Fishermen, sailors, divers, environmentalists, and people who have been active all their lives around the ocean are comforted by the thought of being surrounded by the marine life.
Q. What are the benefits of Eternal Reefs?
A. Over the years, humans have done a great deal of damage to the seas and oceans of our world. Many natural reefs have been destroyed and overfished. Establishing new reefs helps to take the pressure off the natural reef systems and helps repair the damage that we have done. The Eternal Reefs provide a nurturing environment for fish and other forms of sea life that are critical to the environment.
Q. Do you need all of the cremated remains to make an Eternal Reef?
A. No, we can use all, some, or none of the cremated remains in the creation of an Eternal Reef. Frequently families will scatter a portion of the cremated remains in a special location(s) and use the rest of the remains to create an Eternal Reef as a living legacy to their loved one’s life. Some religions require the cremated remains to be kept together, and we can accommodate these needs.
Q. Can I place more than one set of cremated remains in an Eternal Reef?
A. Yes, our Mariner Eternal Reef can accommodate up to four sets of remains and the Nautilus Eternal Reef can accommodate two sets of remains. Pets can be included in any of our individual reefs at no charge. There is a charge of $250 for each set of additional remains.
Q. Can I visit the location of the Eternal Reef?
A. Yes, we provide the families with the exact GPS coordinates so they can visit the reef site whenever they wish. You can visit by boat to fish or dive on the Eternal Reef.
Q. Will an Eternal Reef move?
A. With more than 700,000 Reef Balls placed worldwide, the Eternal Reef design has a proven track record and has passed every government test for stability. During the devastating hurricane seasons of 1998 and 2004, many of our sites were hit directly by storms and all of our reefs remained in place.
Q. Can I have a private placement?
A. Yes, depending on the location and the availability of permits we can do this. These are custom projects and need to be reviewed before we can determine the possibility and the cost. Please call us directly to discuss the possibility of having a private placement.
Q. Can we retrieve the Eternal Reef at a later time?
A. No, the Eternal Reefs are donated to the permitted site. The Eternal Reef would not be serving its purpose of improving the ecosystem of the sea if removal was allowed. Before making the decision to memorialize your loved one in an Eternal Reef, everyone should be comfortable with the belief that his or her loved one’s legacy will be living on with the creation of an Eternal Reef.
Q. Can I put an Eternal Reef anywhere?
A. No, Eternal Reefs can go only in properly permitted locations that are approved by the federal, state, and local governments. We work with families and state and local agencies to find the area of most need for the Eternal Reef.
Q. How do you choose the locations of Eternal Reef sites?
A. Several factors go into how we determine locations. We like to create these Eternal Reef sites in vacation and retirement locations. We want families to have as many opportunities to come back and visit these sites. Locations also generally have the necessary infrastructure of marine equipment, barges, tugs, and cranes that we need along with hotels and restaurants for our families. Permits that meet our requirements must also be available. And a sufficient interest in the location is needed so that we can create really meaningful Eternal Reef system made up of several reef balls to create a real benefit to the environment.
Q. How does choosing an Eternal Reef differ from choosing a cremation urn?
A. Frequently families choose a cremation urn thinking of it as a final resting place for a loved one’s cremated remains. Sometimes these cremation urns end up on a shelf or in a closet for the next generation to deal with. An Eternal Reef is a permanent memorial that places the cremated remains in the ocean and creates new life as reef habitat for fish, turtles, and other forms of sea life.
Q. How is an Eternal Reef different from ash scattering?
A. We frequently hear from families who can’t bring themselves to scatter a loved one’s ashes. Many families and individuals want a place to visit when remembering a family member or loved one. An Eternal Reef is located in a specific place known to the family and friends. It provides a living memorial to visit, that does not exist when there is a scattering of ashes.
Q. How will I know where the Eternal Reef is located?
A. With every Eternal Reef the executor of the estate receives two memorial certificates that identify the longitude and latitude of the memorial.
Q. How long will an Eternal Reef last?
A. Marine wildlife begins growing quickly on an Eternal Reef and it soon becomes a permanent part of the ocean landscape. We start with a unique concrete formula and add special additives that increase its strength from 3,000 PSI to 10,000 PSI. Next we create a special surface texture that encourages growth of various types and sizes of marine life. This sea growth, which quickly covers the Eternal Reef, not only becomes a protective layer on the memorial but also enriches the environment.
Q. What kinds of plaques are available?
A. We only utilize bronze plaques. Bronze holds up to the corrosiveness of seawater and remains intact for centuries. All individual reefs come with a 6-inch bronze plaque on which an inscription can be placed.
HOME FUNERAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q. What are the benefits of a home funeral?
A. A home funeral offers the family time to honor the body and the Being who inhabited it – in silence, tears, laughter, connectedness, ceremony, and oneness.
We encourage the family and friends to participate at whatever level they feel comfortable in a home funeral. Prior to burial/cremation they can wash and anoint the body, dress the body, and create a ceremony or ritual.
Once the body has been prepared for its final resting place, the family and friends can assist with building and decorating the casket, digging the hole, lowering the casket into the ground, and sprinkling or shoveling dirt over the body or casket. Then the family and friends can assist with planting the memorial tree.
Q. What is the cost of a home funeral?
A. The cost of a home funeral is considerably less than one held in a traditional funeral home. When hiring a Home Funeral Guide you pay consultation fees for education and guidance and save on the cost of refrigeration, embalming, mortician fees, and parlor and chapel rentals.
There may still be refrigeration after a home funeral, and while a mortician for embalming my not be utilized, a funeral director will be.
Q. Is a home funeral suitable for children?
A. Yes. A home funeral allows the young to witness death and see it as a part of life. It can open them up to embrace death as part of life’s journey rather than fear death. By having the body at home, children can witness the body, touch it if they choose, and it can open them up to ask questions.
You can also invite children to help decorate the casket. This will allow them to express themselves as well as leave a remembrance.
Q. How is the body preserved?
A. The body is carefully washed and preserved with dry ice, ice, or gel packs to slow down the body’s deterioration.
For more information on legal rights for your state, visit the Funeral Consumers Alliance.