The funerary and disposition practices common to our culture – that is, dying in a hospital, having the body handled by a mortician, and having the funeral arranged by a parlor – are remarkably new in relation to the millennia of traditional customs surrounding death. Yet they have become so standardized that it is considered radical for someone in our day and age even to consider choosing another way.
The Crestone End of Life Project takes as part of its mission the intention to support end-of-life wishes outside of the normative practices of our culture. CEOLP supports a variety of end-of-life choices, whether personal or from a faith tradition:
- The right of terminally ill individuals to be taken out of medical facilities in order to die at home
- The right of those who die in a hospital to be transported home rather than to a mortuary
- The right not to be embalmed
- The right to open-air cremation at a legal site, or green burial
- The choice to have friends and family prepare the body, and to create a beautiful and peaceful home environment for visitors wishing to be with the deceased (for up to 72 hours)
- The choice to be privately transported to:
A mortuary for cremation
A mortuary or cemetery for traditional burial
The CEOLP legal open-air site for cremation
A chosen site for green burial
Crestone End of Life Project operates one of the only legal, open-air cremation sites in the state of Colorado. This ancient and inspirational end-of-life choice returns the body to its original fire and air elements. The process involves a pyre, a half-cord of wood, a wooden stretcher and a shroud. The family or friends of the deceased work together with CEOLP staff to plan the ceremony, and various teams from our organization are trained to produce a deeply meaningful context for marking the passage of a loved one into death.
Green Burial Information
With the increasing awareness of the environmental costs of standard burials, the option of ‘green burial’ has become attractive as a more intimate and environmentally sound way of burying a loved one. This method – which eschews the use of toxic chemicals, grave liners and non-degradable coffins – preserves and restores the natural landscape in cemetery grounds designated for green burial.
Crestone End of Life Project works with the Town of Crestone to fulfill the wishes of area residents who would like to have a green burial in the Crestone Cemetery.
For more information on the topic of green burials in general, please refer to:
Another good resource is Mark Harris' book, Grave Matters, which catalogues the environmental costs of embalmment and standard burial practices and details a range of alternative burial and cremation options.
Education on EOL Issues | About Home Funeral Choices