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Environmentally-Friendly Funeral Planning

Environmentally-Friendly Funeral Planning

Despite being part of the natural celebration of the cycle of life and death,  most modern variations on traditional funeral practices are far from  environmentally-friendly.

A burial generally involves a casket made out of wood taken from forests  (most of which are not sustainable), and a body that has been embalmed using  chemicals such as formaldehyde—a dangerous carcinogen.

While commonly thought to be less environmentally disruptive than a full-on  burial, the process of cremation can also damage the environment by releasing a  slew of hazardous gasses into the atmosphere, including: mercury, dioxin and  carbon dioxide.

And those are just the environmental expenses.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average price of  an adult funeral in 2009 was $6,560—more than nine times what it cost to bury  someone in 1960.

This dramatic cost increase could be part of the reason why increasing  numbers of older adults are looking into the possibility of a more down-to-earth  burial ritual.

Preserving the green in your garden and your pocket

The so-called “Green funeral” offers an alternative for those who want to avoid squashing the environment and their family with an elephant-sized carbon and financial footprint. As its name suggests, a green funeral is about honoring a loved one while preserving the environment.

The typical green funeral involves burying an un-embalmed body in a biodegradable casket or cloth shroud. The grave site is generally marked with either a tree or a naturally-hewn stone. Some cemeteries have even taken to burying GPS devices with a body to help pin point its location without using a visible marker.

Green cemeteries specialize in providing naturally-sustainable environments where a person’s remains can exist in harmony with the surrounding environment. The lawn of a green cemetery is not meticulously manicured, but allowed to grow as it normally would. Vaults are avoided, and bodies are buried in a way that prevents the ground from settling or sinking.

Here are a few tips to help get you started planning a green funeral:

1. Know your options: Some cemeteries and funeral homes have  gone totally green. But that doesn’t mean that a regular funeral home or  cemetery doesn’t offer environmentally-friendly burial options. Cemeteries may  offer both types of burials, having set aside a portion of land to be used for  green funerals. A traditional funeral home may also have green burial options.  Be sure to do research and vet your options before deciding on the option that  is right for you.

2. Avoid embalming: Embalming is not required by law and is  frowned upon in green funerals. Some funeral homes offer embalming services that  do not use formaldehyde or  other hazardous chemicals, opting instead for environmentally-friendly  alternatives. If you’re considering being buried in a green cemetery, but still  want to have an embalming performed, check to see if the cemetery will allow a  body to be preserved using “green” practices.

3. Buy biodegradable or rent a casket: A  variety of biodegradable burial container options exist. Biodegradable caskets  and urns can be made out of pine, willow, bamboo, recycled paper, and cardboard,  among other materials. There’s also the option of renting a casket. If you chose  to do this, the casket you pick will be lined with another container (generally  made out of dense cardboard). The body will be displayed in the rental casket on  the liner during the memorial service, after which the body will be removed and  either buried in the liner or cremated.

4. Ashes to ashes (or reefs, or trees): For the  environmentally conscious, being cremated can offer up a host of interesting  possibilities. Ashes can be combined with concrete and molded into artificial  reef habitats for fish and other marine life. They can also be mixed in with  soil and used to nourish a memorial garden or tree.

Environmentally-friendly funerals have the potential to save  the environment and your wallet at the same time. Even so, a green funeral  won’t be the ideal choice for everyone.

If you’re not sure whether you should go the environmentally-conscious route,  thoroughly examine and compare the costs and offerings of different types of  funeral options before deciding how you want to preserve your legacy.

By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor, AgingCare.com

AgingCare.com provides online  caregiver support by connecting people caring for elderly parents to other  caregivers, elder care experts, personalized information, and local resources.  AgingCare.com has become the trusted resource for exchanging ideas, sharing  conversations and finding credible information for those seeking elder care  solutions.

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Gratitude: It Starts With a List

Gratitude: It Starts With a List

Gratitude: It Starts With a List

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus

The most common and ancient advice you hear about developing a practice of gratitude is the idea of counting your blessings.  Every positivity book I have ever laid my hands on has a section that encourages making regular, even daily lists of the blessings in your life. Taken to the next step, this daily listing lives in a gratitude journal.

I have had an approach/avoidance relationship to my own little pink gratitude journal that is decorated with a paisley yellow bird. I chose it in one of my inspired moments with gratitude, determined to fill it up with what I promised myself would be my new consciousness of the blessings that fill my life. It is a small, pocket sized book that I began writing in February.

I feel a little embarrassed that there are still so many pages to fill in such a small book.  My original plan was to carry it with me in my purse, thinking I would stop throughout my day to jot down moments of gratitude.   Lately it sits on my night stand where I recollect feelings of gratitude before I sleep. The book is filling up more regularly now but as I move into this gratitude challenge, I know there is a real and important difference between listing the things I am grateful for and actually feeling them.

Learning how to recollect and experience the felt sense of moments of gratitude takes my full attention in a way that listing my blessings doesn’t. Tapping the soft space inside, where my heart holds the memory of being loved, of loving, of feeling well in myself is akin to feeling deeply blessed, which I think is where gratitude and love are one in the same.

Still, on the many moments when I have no idea how to get to that tender hearted place where I feel in every cell the blessings of my life- making a list is a noble start. It is the mental practice,  the promise kept of leaning towards the goodness that we all have in our lives.  Aldous Huxley  accurately noted that, “most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Making a commitment to a gratitude journal or even just scratching notes on the evening paper about our own good is how we begin to overcome this most common human deficiency that keeps us ever looking out there for what must be found inside.   If you have never done it before, try today to list five, or heck, even ten things that bless you. It can be as small as finding a parking place or as big as the beauty of an evening sunset. It can be a cold drink on a hot, sticky day or a moment of tenderness with someone you are trying to love. Do this one thing: write it down and acknowledge it.

(Leesa recommends a gratitude journal too!  It keeps her focused on all the good in her life…She’s written in one every day since 1994!  http://www.healthyhighway.org/GratitudeJournal.html)

By Wendy Strgar 

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called “the essential guide for relationships.”  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Positivity Quest: A Summer of Gratitude

Positivity Quest: A Summer of Gratitude

Positivity Quest: A Summer of Gratitude

 

 

Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. ~William Faulkner

Every positive psychology text you will ever find will name the practice of gratitude as one of the most direct routes to reframing your thinking and increasing the positive aspects of your life.  For instance, like love,  it is impossible to feel afraid while you feel grateful.  Your brain cannot hold those two disparate thoughts simultaneously. And yet, thinking grateful thoughts is a qualitatively different experience than the moments of grace when gratitude takes over your heart and transforms your perspective.

Like orgasm or forgiveness, I have learned enough about gratitude to know that you can’t force it.  All of these experiences share some fundamental characteristics – you can open to them, you can lean towards them in your thinking, you can invite a vulnerable space in your body to feel, but you can’t force the experience. Still paying attention to what we want to cultivate is the most powerful use of our mind’s eye and attention is often sufficient to make big changes.

So I am taking the summer gratitude challenge. Consider it an extension course of the positivity quest.  Every day I am going to practice holding my thoughts and leaning towards gratitude.  Maybe I will even wear a bracelet again to notice the times when I am not having grateful thoughts.  And every evening I will write about what I learned about gratitude and how it is changing my life.

I am excited for this next step of the positivity quest because I have a few mentors I have met through this endeavor who are living entirely blessed lives and the one thing that I believe to be most true about each of them is that gratitude, like love is the pulse that measures each beat of their lives.

Stay tuned and consider joining me on this summer of gratitude experiement.  It is the doorway to the goodness that is right in front of us.

(Leesa recommends a gratitude journal!  It keeps her focused on all the good in her life…She’s written in one every day since 1994!  http://www.healthyhighway.org/GratitudeJournal.html)

by Wendy Strgar

See more of Wendy’s Positivity Quest here.

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called “the essential guide for relationships.”  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

 

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