I was recently asked my thoughts on how to explain green burial to a family member from my perspective as a psychologist. So here they are:
- Assume your family member knows nothing about green burial and that your first mission is to explain it, as in “I was reading an article about green burial and how it is the most traditional way to handle the body after death. Have you ever heard of it?” Remember while green burial has been practiced for thousands of years, burial with toxic embalming fluids and concrete burial vaults is what most people now think of as “normal.” Be patient; changing attitudes takes time and education.
- Talk about green burial with friends who are less invested in the end-of-life decisions you make for yourself. This will help you get better at explaining your own reasons for choosing a natural burial when you talk to a family member.
- Don’t try to convince your family members that what is right for you is right for them. That will put them on the defensive and they are not likely to stay open to your ideas.
- If your family member is not open at all to this “new” option for burial, accept that and let it be. Just be sure that this person is not appointed as your “Agent for Body Disposition” because if they are, you probably will not get that green burial that you want. If you put a “Green burial is the way to go” bumper sticker on your car, everyone will know what you want!
If you purchase a plot ahead of time, it increases the likelihood that you will end up in it (it doesn’t make sense for the family to buy another plot in a non-green cemetery when there is a lovely site already paid for). Remember – it is your body, your choice, but you have to set up the legal structure NOW because you won’t be able to after you are dead.
If you’d like to take steps to pre-plan your burial, a great place to start is the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western PA.
Have you had experience talking to family and friends about your choice for a green burial? We’d love to hear more about it. Feel free to leave remarks in the comments below!
Post written by Nancy Chubb, PhD, MBA