Natural Burial and the Time Factor after you die

I posted this thread several months ago, when I was new to the natural burial concept, but now I’ve done some research and have a different question.

It appears there are about 5-6 natural burial grounds in business right now (CA, TX, WA, SC, FL, and I think maybe another…) and several other proposed locations throughout the country.

The only thing that seems tricky about a natural burial is that you either need to die in relative proximity to the cemetery where you will be buried (if you pre-bought a plot there), or you’re in for mucho expensive refrigeration/transport because of the decay factor, and I think there are even laws that require only so much time can pass before something needs to be done with your body.

Anne Neville (or some other Doper familiar with Jewish burial traditions), how do Jewish people deal with the 24 hour time factor if the person died far away from where they live? Do Jewish people traditionally pre-buy in a chosen/family plot, and just deal with the transport/cost problem if they die far away from the burial place, or is there some other approach to Jewish burials, because of the time factor?

I posted in the previous thread you referenced but I still don’t understand your motives and I have to assume that some of the motives may or may not be misguided unless you give us more information. Embalming is not mummifying and the main purpose is to keep the body semi-fresh for several days so that the funeral can take place. After burial, even an embalmed body will decay in short order. If the concern is enviornmental, we would have to discuss whether enbalming agents do any harm whatsoever once they do their thing on a corpse and pass through the casket 6 feet underground in a place where there almost certainly aren’t many trees, utility services, or anything else that will be dug up.

I have no idea whether your concerns are religious or environmental but the environmental concern aspect often fails miserably when confronted with the facts. I am a type of environmentalist myself but I am often completely ashamed of others who promote extremely simplistic reasoning to approach complex problems.

Can you explain the background behind this? It could be based on cutting edge scientific research or something that someone told you offhand at a Wiccan ceremony for all we kknow.

I agree with your point, but nothing in your post seems to apply to the OP’s question, which is: “Some folks have a deadline for burial after death, how do you deal with complications like distance?”

I see what you mean but I remembered the linked thread also from the OP. I read it less as what Jewish and Muslims do themselves and more like something personal for xanthous wants to know for himself logistically not even belonging to those faiths. I just wondered what would make a person inquire about a natural burial outside of a religion and what the motives behind that would be. I have the feeling that some of it may be caused by misconceptions in which case we could add our input.

With respect to “natural burial”, I don’t see the problem. Presumably if you wish to be buried without having been embalmed, you can be buried in any cemetery. You don’t have to be buried in one dedicated exclusively to such burials. Consequently, if it’s also important to you to be buried quickly, then you can be buried quickly near where you die.

If you particularly want to be buried in a “natural burial” cemetery because you like the ambience of the place, or whatever, well, I still don’t see a problem. OK, after a few days you’ll be a bit whiffy, but can’t you have yourself sealed in a coffin, and then transported to the cemetery, and then buried? As long as the coffin is reasonably airtight, the fact that some decomposition has occurred is not relevant, surely?

Sorry I’m being so confusing. Here’s my story:

I’d like to have a natural burial- no chemicals- plain box or shroud- returned to the earth, if you will.

(prepare for a giant run-on sentence)
There’s this natural cemetery that I like in California and I’ve considered pre-buying a plot there for myself, but if something happened and I was living in say, Maine, or, hell- vacationing in Europe and I died, would I be screwed or in for a mighty expensive refrigeration/transport so that my body could get back there for burial before I’m a rotten mess?

This pamphlet (Interment Association of America) I have says that if I die out-of-state, my body will have to be embalmed, or enclosed in an airtight casket or container, from which I worry I won’t be able to be removed. So if I’m embalmed or in a non-natural container, I can’t be buried in the natural plot I’ve pre-bought.

That’s my problem: pre-buying in a natural cemetery and then worrying about not being able to use it for time/proximity reasons.

Personally, I find the idea of natural burial aesthetically pleasing.

Perhaps you should start an IMHO thread so we don’t further hijack xanthous’s query.

Shagnasty, my feelings are simple: I just kind of like the idea of turning into some nice, rich soil when I’m done, not being all filled up with embalming fluid. Do things grow in embalming fluid? Do worms eat it? That I don’t know.

(my edit timed out)

p.s. I have no religious consideration in this whole thing. I was just wondering if the Jewish burial tradition, since it was mentioned in the linked thread, might be parallel in some way to the kind of burial I’m interested in, and might therefore deal with these complications.

No problem with that. However, bodies are going to return to the soil no matter what and that is going to be 6 feet under where it isn’t going to interfere with anything growing up top.

I just looked up embalming fluid on Wikipedia. It reports that:

“Typically embalming fluid contains a mixture of formaldehyde, methanol, ethanol and other solvents. The formaldehyde content generally ranges from 5 to 29 percent and the ethanol content may range from 9 to 56 percent.”

The alcohols aren’t much of a problem and will be broken down in short order. Ethanol is drinking alcohol and methanol isn’t that different. Formaldehyde is something I don’t know about in terms of environmental breakdown but the quantities should still be rather isolated in soil that is out of reach for most plants at least in the short-term. I am making an educated guess that it will all be environmentally inconsequential whether you are stored in a stainless steal box or a pine box with no embalming no matter what.

I can’t judge because I personally can’t stand the thought of burials at all and especially open casket funerals. I want to be incinerated and this line of thought was put into practice when my baby daughter died. I personally need ashes to ashes and dust to dust to feel more at ease. I have worked with enough corpses and human brains in grad school to not want anything similar to be associated with me or my family. We ordered her cremated as quickly as possible just because of the thought process associated with death and decomposition. Every person has their own feelings on this that may not be linked to rational facts.

Embalming will not prevent worms and insects from eating your corpse. All it does is temporarily stabilize your corpse to allow for a funeral and burial. It does not preserve your corpse indefinitelly. You will return to the soil if you are buried in a degradable casket.