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The Green Reaper

I live in a lovely, rural county in Oregon where we are allowed to bury our loved ones in our own backyards. Yes, I said backyards. And as the undertaker overseeing five small towns, I have personally buried people in their own backyards.

I am known as The Green Reaper, a name I have affectionately been given as the green burial funeral director, educator and advocate who is always ready to lend a hand, or a shovel. My funeral parlor is in a town named Boring and is anything but. My mortuary is a remodeled goat barn that sits on 30 acres of country land, filled with old farming equipment and horses. I live on the land with my husband and baby, and have only a general store/gas station as a neighbor. And the scenic Clackamas River.

I have had the pleasure of assisting people with sustainable burial options. I love helping in this aspect of death. It truly makes people's eyes sparkle to feel as though their last act on earth contributes to a positive purpose. Those who have laid loved ones to rest in this setting have found comfort in knowing the body will return to the earth as the circle of life continues.

So what is a "green burial?" It is primarily defined by doing less of what is involved in a typical burial. Traditional burials involve loading the body with embalming fluids, placing it in a casket, and interring the body and casket in the ground in a concrete burial vault. An eco-friendly burial can mean skipping the use of embalming fluids and burying the body in a biodegradable shroud or a simple wood coffin that will biodegrade over time.

Oh, and I launched a line of paper maché urns made with dryer lint for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Lint paper maché can be made with a mixture of flour and water. I name urns after all who donate their dryer dregs, as an added incentive. These are then donated to families as needed. I love their faces when they know that their loved ones can be placed in a lovely sustainable piece of art for free. Life is a continuum, indeed. Pass that Earth forward!

Current Media

I recently starred in a documentary called Death Goes Green which won a place as one of the 12 films competing at the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto, the largest International Documentary Fest.

And look for me soon on HDNet's World Report. My documentary on green burial is currently in post- production.

Want to learn more? Please check out my funeral home, Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon.