Many people ask us whether they can be buried with a tree.
Thanks to ads and articles that circulated a few years ago about a popular idea (still in the works) for pods that could hold a deceased person’s body and from which a tree would grow, green burial has gotten a lot of attention.
And while truly becoming the root system for a tree poses some challenges (more on that later), Seven Stones can offer burial in many different shades of green.
Our new botanical gardens cemetery in the Denver metro area is what’s known as a hybrid cemetery, meaning Seven Stones offers traditional burial and cremation services along with green burial.
For purists, a green burial may mean that the hole is dug by hand, the deceased is placed only in a shroud and lowered by straps, the hole is filled again by hand, and there is no marker on the grave. Becoming a green-certified cemetery would require that we separate green burial from traditional burial or cremation memorialization.
But at Seven Stones, we want to give families more flexibility to meet their needs and beliefs:
For some, green burial might mean simply that their loved one isn’t embalmed.
It might also mean that the deceased is buried without a plastic or metal vault, or without a concrete grave liner or box.
It might mean that in addition, their loved one is buried in a casket made of hardwoods but with metal springs and clasps.
Or the casket might resemble a traditional Jewish burial with an unfinished wooden box that will easily break down. Some families choose wicker baskets or other materials as well.
Because the goal is to avoid contaminating the ground and to encourage the body to return to the earth, green burial eschews the traditional “six feet under” for a shallower four-foot grave, where that can happen more quickly. People are often surprised to learn that most states allow green burial and only require a depth of at least 24 inches.
Here at Seven Stones, our Meadow is an ideal space for green burial. In this space, the grass is left to grow 12-18 inches high, like a traditional mountain meadow. The only markers are the occasional natural granite boulder, which can be engraved for the deceased, or memorialization on basalt columns that surround the perimeter.
But we also can accommodate green burials in our Great Lawn and other parts of our cemetery, so that family members who make different choices can still be placed together.
As for the tree and pod idea? There are some logistical challenges. Ideally, the tree will grow…meaning a large radius for the roots and the leaf canopy. It requires quite a large piece of land to execute.
One company in Colorado is offering an option in which the ashes from cremation (which is not a green process) are mixed with a nutrient compound in an urn within which a tree can grow. And there’s the Ecopod, made from naturally hardened recycled paper, an option that could replace a wooden casket in a green burial.
We’re always keeping an eye on the latest developments and seek to accommodate the widest array of burial options in the Denver area. Seven Stones believes in doing things differently. To an industry that is traditional and slow to change, we bring creativity, innovative thinking, state-of-the-art facilities, extraordinary design and unique options. That’s the Seven Stones Difference.