Families can participate in every aspect of natural services: They can carry their loved one to the grave, help place them inside, and fill the grave with soil. The intimacy of this process evokes raw emotion, and that’s cathartic. Afterward, people look changed.
In the natural-burial world, we can also mix cremated remains with soil and plant a tree. Or incorporate them into a structure called a reef ball, which is placed on the ocean floor, where it becomes a home for coral and sea creatures. What impacts me most is showing families that embalming fluids and concrete vaults and steel caskets aren’t necessary: You come from the earth, you go back to the earth. And maybe become part of something larger. —Ed Bixby, owner of the Steelmantown Cemetery Company