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: What is human composting?

The process only became legal in 2019

By Jason Meidl, Funeral Director at Creston Valley Funeral Services

It’s hard to believe that we celebrated Blossom Fest over the weekend. It feels like winter was just here! One of my favourite times of the year is right now. It’s a time when our valley greens up like no other, cherry blossoms start to pop, and our gardens start to thrive. Spring is really a time of new beginnings.

For many who have lost a loved one, the idea of changing seasons is something that is experienced in a different way. Our grief has a way of changing as we move through the different seasons of our lives. Grief isn’t something that just goes away, but it is something that can evolve and change as we move forward. I always come back to the comparison that our grief is like the ocean waves, sometimes they are crashing into the shore and other times they are gently rolling in. Either way the waves are always there and we learn how to move with them, whether they are roaring waves or subtle ripples.

“What is human composting?” – Ian

This is a great question and one that I am well versed in, as I just spent some time with the founder of Return Home in Seattle, Washington. Return Home is one of the pioneering human composting facilities in the Washington state. Essentially human composting is the natural organic reduction of the human body. The process involves the body being gently transformed into soil using alfalfa, straw, sawdust and time. The first part of the process is the laying in of the body into the vessel where the composting will take place. This vessel becomes a place for family to gather and spend time with their loved one as the process takes place. The actual composting part happens when oxygen is introduced, which then stimulates microbes in the body that rapidly transform the body into soil in just one month. After the first 30 days, the soil is then screened for non-organic materials and then placed into a another vessel to rest and cool. Once this process is complete, the soil is returned to the family. Currently, human composting is a legal form of disposition in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, California, and New York. It is a very new form of disposition, only becoming legal in Washington in 2019.

Interesting Fact

I recently attended a conference where our key note speaker was Riaz Meghji. For anyone who has not heard of Riaz, I highly recommend you look him up. He is truly a gifted speaker and an all around amazing human being.

He asked one question, and it was “What is the one conversation that changed your life either personally or professionally?” I don’t know about you, but this question is something that I wasn’t sure I could answer. But as it turns out, I was asked to answer this question on stage in front of all the conference attendees. I am not one to shy away from the hard questions, so today’s fact is about myself and my answer to this question.

The most important conversation that I had took place about six years ago. I found myself in a mental health crisis. At this point in my life, I had never experienced anything to do with mental health directly related to myself. I found myself experiencing extreme anxiety due to being in a toxic workplace environment. I found myself in the emergency room explaining this to an amazing doctor, and this was the conversation that changed my life’s direction both personally and professionally.

The conversation was simple and to the point. I was told I had two options, one we could take medication to control the symptoms or deal with the root issue, which was the situation I was in. I discovered later that this is called situational anxiety. We made the decision, myself and my family, to leave the toxic environment and start fresh in a new community. Interestingly enough, I have never had anxiety since. This simple conversation changed the course of my life and brought me where I am today, a place I could not have imagined being six years ago.

This experience really highlighted to me how important it is to look after one’s mental health.

Keep the questions coming to jason@crestonvalleyfuneralservices.ca

ColumnCreston Valley