Death News: Green Burial, Decomposition, Obituary Scams, and Buying Local Urns

Apr 2, 2018 | 0 comments

Illustration by JooHee Yoon

NY Times Illustration by JooHee Yoon

It’s the day after Easter. As the days get longer, we celebrate spring and the revival of life after a cold, dark winter. Here are several recent news stories about new trends in death, including how decomposition works, green burial, how to avoid scammers who harvest information from obituaries, and how one funeral home is buying local artists’ urns to offer their customers.

The New York Times, March 31, 2018: Decomposition: An Easter Story

Eugenia Bone, a former president of the New York Mycological Society and author of “Microbia: A Journey Into the Unseen World Around You,” loves and writes about detritivores — things that eat the dead. She provides an understandable review of the process of decomposition, helpful for those who’d like to get a green burial. She writes:

I say I love detritivores, but I am especially fond of decomposers. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but technically, detritivores have a stomach: They ingest and digest dead matter, and decomposers don’t. Decomposers, like fungi and bacteria, break down the chemical bonds that hold the molecules of dead things together and release the main elements of life — carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur — from their corporal bonds, freeing them to be used again.

That’s why I always start thinking about decomposers around Easter. Christ’s body was said to have been untouched by decay when it was resurrected; but for the rest of us, the resurrection part of the life cycle is performed by decomposers.

She also mentions Jae Rhim Lee’s Infinity Burial Suit. You can see my video interview with her when she introduced the product to the funeral industry at the 2016 ICCFA convention and expo.

Coeio Infinity Burial Suit (Mushroom Suit)

New York Times, March 22, 2018: Thinking About Having a ‘Green Funeral’? Here’s What to Know

Green Burial at Seven Stones

Green Burial at Seven Stones

Sonya Vatomsky writes:

A typical American funeral usually involves a few hallmarks we’ve come to expect: an expensive coffin, lots of flowers, an embalming for the deceased and a number of other add-ons.

But how necessary are those embellishments? Enter the “green burial.”

The specifics of a green burial vary widely, but typically they require far fewer resources for the care of the body and skip a number of the traditional steps, making them better for the environment. Plus, they can save families on funeral costs.

AARP Bulletin, March 2018: Death Notice Double-Cross

Sid Kirchheimer provides great tips to avoid scams that use obituary information.

We all want to acknowledge a loved one’s life completed. But be aware that the devil is in the details. The more personal facts you provide in an obit, the greater risk of scams—for the departed and survivors alike.

Find out all the details here.

Connecting Directors, March 28, 2018: Berardinelli Funeral Home Increases Revenue with Local and Eco-friendly Showroom

Over the last year, Berardinelli Funeral Home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been making a shift in their product showroom (now a “gallery”) to something unique in the funeral industry. They have made the transition to 100% local-handmade and eco-friendly cremation merchandise as well as introduced the similar options for burial.

The Initiative, lead by funeral director Jody Herrington, was inspired by a desire to be more environmentally conscious and support the local Northern New Mexico economy. She saw the value that the diverse southwest community places on creativity and their connection with place and designed her funeral merchandise showroom to reflect the focus of the community. Her intuition for a local/eco-friendly showroom has paid off as Herrington reports an increase in merchandise revenue for Berardinelli Funeral Home since eliminating the usual Batesville and Mathews merch, although she wouldn’t reveal actual sales figures.

Read the full story here.

Urns by Linda Hayden

Ceramic urns by Linda Hayden

The Independent (UK), March 27, 2018: How the world of death and funerals has become fashionable through digital culture

‘Tearleading’ – the process of publicly sharing condolences after someone famous has died – has become an internet phenomenon. It’s made grief trendy and has digitized the only one true certainty in life: death. Read the full article by Oliver Bennett.

A Good Goodbye