Could green burials be in London's future?
November 16, 2018
On November 6, 2018 the King’s Thanatology Program hosted an information session from the Green Burial Society of Canada.
The talk, entitled Green/Natural Burials, was presented by Mark Richardson, Director of the Green Burial Society of Canada and Manager of Cemetery Services, Municipal Works, City of Niagara Falls and Ellen Newman, licensed funeral director specializing in green and natural burials and Co-Director of the Good Green Death Project.
A green, or natural, burial is the internment of a deceased person’s body in a manner which does not inhibit decomposition. Instead, a green burial allows the body to recycle naturally, with no embalming, and the use of natural fibers for clothing and/or a shroud. If there is a casket, it is made of natural materials, such as wicker or untreated wood.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in green burials, as people are becoming more sensitive to the environmental impact of traditional modes of body preparation and internment.
Dr. Darcy Harris, Thanatology Program Coordinator & Associate Professor, reports that there was a good turnout for the event, stating “we had a mixture of funeral and cemetery professionals, city planners, interested individuals, and students in the audience. The room was packed, and we had to bring in extra chairs to accommodate everyone.”
“There were many good questions and good discussion about how to initiate green burial in our community,” Harris says. “London does not have a green burial site, and this event was seen as the initial step towards making this possibility a reality in our community.”
The presentation came about after Thanatology faculty members met Elaine Andrews and Mary Lou Dewan, two thanadoulas (who function similarly to midwives at the end of life), at a Death Symposium held in Toronto in September. Andrews and Dewan knew of a cemetery in the Niagara region which had opened as a green burial site and introduced King’s Thanatology department to Richardson and Newman.
King's University College has had an effective Death Education Program since 1976. More than 4,000 students have taken university courses in Death and Bereavement at King’s.