Conservation Burial

9:40 AM

"What we’re doing is basically land conservation.  By setting aside woods for natural burials, we preserve it from development.  At the same time, I think we put death in its rightful place, as part of the cycle of life.  Our burials honor the idea of dust to dust."
-Dr Billy Campbell

I've been waiting to talk about Ellie's burial for a while because I wasn't ready. But I do think it's important to talk about, because it can be extremely overwhelming to face all of this in the days after the death of a baby (or anyone for that matter.)

Chris and I have never liked traditional burials and cemeteries and long before Ellie was in our lives, we always talked about doing things a different way. A lot of people don't realize that standard, non-eco friendly burials are actually terrible for the earth. It's so crazy to think about how burial traditions have evolved over time and also to contemplate how much more involved it really has become. It may not seem appealing or even honorable to consider older burial traditions which don't involve embalming, vaults, or heavy duty caskets...but when we think about the cycle of life as a whole, it does make more sense.

We didn't plan or even think about Ellie's burial until after she passed away, because while she was in the womb we felt that our duty as her parents was to ask for her healing. If her time on Earth with us was truly going to be short...we could think of no better way to spend it with her than to just intercede for her every moment we could. We tried hard to hold this in tension with understanding that she may not make it, and although this was hard, I don't regret one day. We were faced with questions of what to do after she passed away on the 18th of June..and we heard from a nurse that there were 2 other mothers who also lost their babies that same day...and 1 of them was completely unexpected. I can't imagine.

Trail walking away from Ellie's spot

Someone mentioned Memorial Ecosystems to us, which is a company (husband and wife) in Westminster, SC. We knew this was exactly what we wanted. The idea is that even through death we have the ability to facilitate and contribute to life and growth. I can't think of a better way to honor little Ellie than to have her placed in a natural environment that will continue to grow and bring forth new life. Because Ellie is a baby, the price of the burial was only 500.00, and then we payed an extra 100.00 to get a large stone engraved with her name and date of birth/death on it. One of the (many) requirements for conservation burial is that their casket must be bio-degradable, and we had a group of wonderful friends build and paint her casket with materials that were all bio-degradable. I'm not sure the total cost of this part because they did it for us on their own, but I know that places like Memorial Ecosystems have connections with individuals and companies who construct them.

Ellie's box, hand constructed and coated with a natural mineral oil.

Because the burials are eco-friendly, they are naturally much cheaper than traditional burials. The requirements for being considered a "Conservation Burial" are listed on the website, and differ from just "green" or "green in a natural setting." Conservation burials are at the top of the hierarchy when it comes to being the very best for the Earth. I really hope that this way of burying loved ones will catch on.  I think it's so beautiful. I haven't gone back to Ellie's grave yet, but when I do I will take photos of her actual spot and stone. 

View from the Middle Ridge Trail where Ellie is buried. 

The grounds are beautiful here, and many people visit the park as a whole just to walk around and enjoy nature. It totally doesn't have a "cemetery" feel to it. It's so peaceful. There are multiple trails to travel through and you really can pick just about any spot off the trail. We happened to find a tiny little spot surrounded by dogwoods for Ellie. There is a gorgeous meadow area for families who prefer a more open and sunshiney place, and there is a historic chapel on the grounds that we used for part of her service. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, who own the grounds and business are just lovely. Mrs. Campbell was born in the UK, and the whole process of picking out Ellie's spot with her was just amazing. She was so sensitive and lovely and she drove us around (in a golf cart) through all of the grounds until we found the perfect spot. It was as stress free and peaceful as it could have been.

To read more about Conservation Burial, visit this page of their website.

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