Category Archives: Guiding Principles

Perpetual and Successive Burial Sites

Natural burial practices provide us with an exceptional opportunity to express, experience, and model earth-friendly values. It recognizes our position as simply one small, fragile part of the vast expression of life. It accepts our nature-given form. It embraces the built-in opportunities to actively participate in various cycles that for billions of years have promoted, sustained, and even encouraged life to thrive – in number and variety. It allows us to see ourselves as the rose that grows and fades, as the decay, and as the compost from which the next rose will rise. It transmutes loss and grief to become our final gift to life itself.

In most cases, including The Meadow – when one purchases a burial site in a cemetery, he or she is not actually buying a piece of land. He or she is purchasing only the interment privileges of a specific piece of land. The land continues to belong to the owners of the cemetery.

In recent history, most people expect that once a burial site is occupied the deceased has precedence over any other activity or use of the land forever — perpetually. Knowing where our loved one is or we ourselves will be buried brings many of us comfort. Future family members, historians, and passing strangers may appreciate visiting a perpetual gravesite which speaks of the past and of transience.

But for those of us not particularly attached to the perceived benefits of the perpetual burial practice, The Meadow is offering an additional and even greener option: successive interment. In this case, after 50 years of decomposition, the site can be reused. Fifty years is plenty of time for nature to have taken her course. Little ─ if anything ─ of the decedent would remain. All burial records will have been kept for family and historians; markers and any remains found during the careful re-excavation of the land will be dealt with in the manner chosen by the decedent and/or his/her loved ones in the original contract designating the site as “successive.”

A successive site costs a little less. Other benefits are that a successive site produces additional income that ensures the continued maintenance of the land and its flora and fauna; and creates additional spaces for natural burials in our community without using more land ─ making this small burial ground a sustainable endeavor.

Think about it.

What would nature do?

If you are familiar with the term biomimicry, you might have noticed that at The Meadow we lean heavily upon practices very similar to those of this relatively new discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems.

Biomimicry says that if we want to consciously emulate nature’s genius, we need to look at nature differently. We need to see nature as model, measure, and mentor.

  • Nature as model: Biomimicry is a science that studies nature’s models and then emulates these forms, process, systems, and strategies to solve human problems – sustainably.
  • Nature as measure: Biomimicry uses ecological standards to judge the sustainability of our innovations.  After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned what works and what lasts.
  • Nature as mentor: Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing nature.  It introduces an era based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but what we can learn from it.

At The Meadow, because our view and purposes are much narrower in scope, we tend to start with the question: “What would nature do?” And if we want to do something other than what nature would do, how can we achieve the intended purpose with the least disturbance to the impetus and expressions currently occurring in, on, and through the land?