First, do not panic and do not feel pressured into making decisions. Take all the time you need to figure out which next steps are right for you and your family. There is no rush, so give yourself time and space to consider the options and find a local funeral director who is flexible, transparent, understanding, and driven by purpose not profit.
Yes, we would love to help. We can sit down with you over a cup of coffee and talk over what you had in mind, give you some options, and put a plan in writing. We provide a cost estimate for our services and then it is totally up to you whether or not to fund the funeral. Either way, we keep your wishes on file and give you a copy to share with your loved ones. Above all, we recommend that you have a conversation with your next of kin so they know what you want and won’t be left wondering what arrangements to make for you. If you are not comfortable with your next of kin making your funeral arrangements, you may appoint someone else to be in charge.
Generally, a natural or green funeral will cost about half as much as a conventional funeral that includes embalming, burial vault, and bronze or granite headstone. Many people will select green burial for both its lower cost and also its ecological benefits. However, if cost is your primary consideration then cremation will be the least expensive choice.
Embalming works well for the restoration and temporary preservation of the deceased, but it is not required under any circumstances and it is not a public health benefit. Embalming was developed during the Civil War to transport fallen soldiers home from the battlefields. Today, refrigeration and other cooling methods such as dry ice are available, so embalming has limited benefits. The United States is the only country in the world to routinely embalm the dead.
We do not routinely embalm or apply cosmetics unless you ask us to. Dad didn’t wear make-up in life, so it can feel really unnatural to see him wearing make-up after death. Most people will look like themselves, but their coloring is different. We do basic preparation including washing and dressing and we close the eyes and mouth. In general the person will look good, but they will look dead–as they should! Before a viewing, we will advise you on what to expect depending on the person’s particular appearance and circumstances. The families we serve have often expressed their appreciation for being able to see their loved one in a natural state.
The short answer is “yes!” The realistic answer is “it depends.” You can most definitely have a green burial following organ donation. The feasibility of viewing can only be determined on a case by case basis depending on what parts of the body were donated and the family’s level of comfort with viewing the person after donation has taken place. We do basic reconstruction work to make a person viewable, such as suturing, but we will leave the body in its natural state as much as possible.