As our society becomes ever more complex, many people are seeking to inject some simplicity and authenticity into their lives. This yearning for grounded, natural experiences takes many forms, from choosing to live “off the grid” in remote areas, to the “slow food” movement which focuses on home-made meals shared at a table as a way for families to slow down and connect with one another.
This trend toward more natural experiences is changing the way we think about burial too. While the majority of Canadians still choose cremation or traditional burial when a death occurs, a growing minority are choosing natural burial. This type of burial allows the body of the deceased to return to the earth as naturally as possible – without embalming and in biodegradable caskets, urns or shrouds.
While natural burial has existed for hundreds of years in Europe, it was not available in the GTA until 2012 when we opened the first natural burial grounds at Meadowvale Cemetery in Brampton. In addition to our Meadowvale location we now have a second natural burial section at Duffin Meadows Cemetery in Pickering.
For families, natural burial is a personal choice, usually driven by a desire to let nature take its course without any of the barriers put up by traditional burial like vaults, heavy wood or metal caskets, granite markers and embalming. But there is an important community side to natural burial too. The grounds are left to grow freely, with native grasses and self-seeding wildflowers, while tokens of remembrance like photos and flowers are not permitted. Natural burial sites are green oases set within our dense, urban environments.
While natural burial is the choice for a minority of burials today, we believe it’s popularity will continue grow because it taps into something important about life in major urban centres in the 21st century. That is, that many of us want simpler, more natural and more environmentally-conscious experiences.