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  • Writer's pictureCile

Living & Dying On the Take

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Art credit: Gregg Segal and his art project 7 Days of Garbage

Diagnosed Mortal #11

This post is about owning choices, making reparations and recovering the process of mourning from suppressed practices.

One of the happiest moments of my life was when I secured my green burial site. My son helped me do this. He had some money to toss his mum and when he asked me what I wanted, I jumped right on the opportunity to set this burial arrangement up. It does not relieve me from my lifelong indecency of my adding to the problem of creating waste in the world but it helped me get real about my part in the problem.

Like many aware people, I think about how much I've participated the the polluting of this gorgeous planet. It is heartbreaking with numbers that I can't even begin to wrap my mind around. I do the little things but it was this one step - this one commitment - that allowed me a little grace to stand with these transgressions. I said full stop to not giving back to the earth in, at least, one final way.

The entire idea about green burial, as mentioned in the audio file, was the result of my watching and being inspired by the movie, A Will for the Woods .

After seeing this movie and a few other documentaries on alternative types of funerals, namely, A Family Undertaking (a PBS POV offering) and the Japanese movie, Departures, I looked into if there were any local options for green burial. My choice is 100's of miles away from where I currently live but not so far away from the homes of my sons who live in the Portland Oregon area. I chose White Eagle Memorial Preserve in Goldendale, WA which has an amazing, colorful and soulful history. I could not be more thrilled to be buried on this land and to help secure this area of the world from development by making it a sacred, natural and open burial preserve. There are no head stones and all plastics, titanium and medical what-nots are removed from the body which is buried in a shroud or, perhaps a casket made of natural materials. Everything in and of the grave is biodegradable. There is no headstone or marker. This is a beautiful clip of what a natural burial looks like at the preserve and shows a bit of what the spirit of White Eagle is about...

This story of my green burial site continued in 2019 when my sporting family, including my granddaughter, joined me in a camping trip to White Eagle Memorial Preserve where my granddaughter helped me pick out my burial site. It cannot be understated how much I appreciate my family for their willingness to support me in this way. Maddie even decorated the spot in the shape of a heart with twigs and pine cones and leaves and rocks in a spontaneously tender gesture.

It is going to be a hassle for my kids to get my body there and I've done some of the leg work in organizing what they might expect to run into preparing me for my "dirt nap" as my son, Hunter, likes to call it. It IS more complicated I state in the audio file, death is supposed to be complicated. It is a catalyst for grieving to do "the things" to say goodbye. They can be loving, hands-on things that make the healing easier and the carrying on of life more joyous.

My musical choice: Tender by Blur is one of the most amazingly joyful funeral dirges I can imagine as I write this today...a heart is sometimes heavy with love and we must go the distance with it.

"...Come on, Come on, Come on, Get through it. Come on, Come on, Come on...

Love is the greatest thing that we have...."

As mentioned in the White Eagle film: The Green Burial Guidebook by Elizabeth Fournier

~For the curious: this Blogpost explains my motivation and intention for this series of 20 essays in the Diagnosed Mortal series~


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