Jason Meidl is the funeral director at Creston Valley Funeral Services.

Jason Meidl is the funeral director at Creston Valley Funeral Services.

Ask Your Funeral Director: Are there green alternatives to burial practices?

“We can definitely work from the funeral homes perspective to create a greener burial if this is what our families are looking for.”

By Jason Meidl, Funeral Director at Creston Valley Funeral Services

jason@crestonvalleyfuneralservices.ca

It’s been three months now since my family and I made our move back to the Creston Valley, and we couldn’t be happier. Creston has always been our home, and we always knew that we would find our way back here. From creating a new garden space for us to enjoy the wonderful bounty of this amazing valley to running the Old Ferry Road, we feel like we are back home. We are so thankful for the overwhelming community support we have received and look forward to serving our families for years to come.

Here is a question I received recently:

Hi Jason, my question is about green burials. Something tells me that common burial practices, including cremation, might not be environmentally friendly. What are the greener alternatives to this? Does your funeral home provide these services? – Barbara

Hi Barbara, thanks so much for this question. In the province of B.C., there are two legal forms of disposition for someone who has died, by interment in a cemetery or by cremation in a crematorium. As of right now these are the only two legal forms of disposition in the province. When it comes to interment in a cemetery there are currently five cemeteries in B.C. approved by the Green Burial Society of Canada (GBSC). To be considered green, there are five principles that must be met by the GBSC. Firstly, no embalming. Secondly, direct earth burial, which means the body is shrouded by natural and biodegradable fibers, or placed in a casket or container made of sustainable and fully biodegradable materials. Thirdly, ecological restoration and conservation, which speaks to the protection of the established eco-systems of the interment area. Visitation is managed through well-placed walking paths and occasional benches, along with the planting of indigenous plant materials once the grave is settled. Visitation of individual graves is discouraged and may eventually be prohibited, which is where the walking paths and benches come in. Fourthly, the idea of communal memorialization as opposed to individual memorials. The idea is that the green burial site is a living memorial to those interred there. Lastly, optimized land use. When it comes to traditional earth burial in our area, we can strive to be greener which might mean no embalming and using a casket made from sustainable and biodegradable material. We have caskets made from materials for this very reason. We are bound by the bylaws in our local cemetery which limit how “green” we can be. In Creston, there is no green burial section of the cemetery as recognized by the GBSC, but we can definitely work from the funeral homes perspective to create a greener burial if this is what our families are looking for.

Fun Fact of the Week:

It sure feels like spring outside here in our valley. I love walking by and seeing all the tulips in bloom. As I walked downtown this week, I was thinking about flowers and funerals have always gone hand in hand. The first recorded use of flowers was discovered by Dr. Ralph Solecki in 1951 when he discovered the use of flowers at several burial sites. It was determined through soil analysis that the use of these flowers dated back to 62,000 B.C., which marks the use of flowers as the oldest form of human ritual as noted by the Guinness Book of World Records. More recently, before the more common practice of embalming, flowers were traditionally used to mask the unpleasant odours of a decaying body. In today’s age, flowers are used at funerals to create a background of warmth and beauty, as well as being an expression of love, comfort, sympathy, and respect. Our life can be symbolized by a flower in the idea that human life is fragile, and it requires the proper conditions for us to grow and blossom.

Keep the questions coming! Email me at jason@crestonvalleyfuneralservices.ca.

READ MORE: Ask Your Funeral Director: What I do for self-care

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