"Don't throw the pa-ast away, You might need it some rainy day" goes the song "Everything Old is New Again."
What's new? People are talking about death. Over coffee, even!
In the not-so-distant past, talking about death wasn't taboo. People cared for the dead themselves and more readily accepted death as a part of life. In many parts of the world, in many cultures, this open attitude is still alive, and a source of healing. In our culture, not so much. But that's changing. Talking about death is becoming more acceptable. An example of this is the death cafe trend.
Death cafes are an example of how we're discovering that the old ways of doing things can be a source of healing. But so can innovation and creativity based on families' wishes. Environmentally friendly burial practices are also worthy of discussion.
What "old ways" can we benefit from?
Family involvement at the time of death is a key component of an old way that's being revived. Practically speaking, this may mean family involvement in dressing and washing the body of loved one to prepare them for their funeral. It may also mean planning a "wake," held in the presence of the body prior to their burial.
In the past, the wake commonly took place at the home of the family. The funeral itself would normally be in a place of worship, But if that wasn't possible the funeral was also held at home. Thus, at-home services aren't really new. What is new is that families often choose non-religious services, whether at-home or elsewhere.
Although Ancient Burials works with a variety of churches and faith communities, we respect the wishes for those who prefer a non-religious ceremony. We have a number of venues throughout Greater Vancouver that may be convenient for your family to us, or your family is always welcome to arrange their own location.
Even funerals come in a choice of colours
The choice is yours. We respect that the use of black is important to some traditions. However, many people choose white or bright colours. Clothing may be important to a funeral planning discussion, along with casket selection and floral arrangements that compliment or contrast the colours of these other items. Again, we do our best to meet the wishes of the families we are honoured to assist.
Speaking of colour, how green are we?
We fully encourage natural burials. This includes embalming, which is often not necessary. Again, this is generally the older, simpler way of burial. Despite what we hear about the elaborate mummification practices developed for pharaohs and the wealthy, ancient burials of common folk were simple. Modern embalming in our part of the world didn't start to become common until the early 1860s-- when the bodies of U.S. Civil War soldiers needed to travel long distances to their families. Thus, better preservation was needed.
Embalming is still widely practiced in Canada and the U.S. However, only in rare cases, such as following death by certain communicable diseases, or prior to a body’s long distance transport, is embalming required by law.
We don't mandate embalming at Ancient Burials. One reason is embalming fluids can be an environmental liability. They're generally formaldehyde-based. Formaldehyde is a chemical commonly used in many preservative materials and construction materials such as particleboard. Although it's a naturally occurring chemical, it is believed to be a carcinogen.
The religious practices of some families are another reason we don't automatically practice embalming. We are mindful of the importance to providing "proper" care of the decedent's body and are sensitive to what a families views on this are. However, if it is determined that embalming is necessary we will include it in our services at no additional cost. This inclusive service is just one thing that make Ancient Burials unique.
"Green" caskets, too.
There are many environmentally-friendly casket options to lacquered wood and metal caskets, which are still so often used. Because these casket's impact on the environment, we've taken the time to find locally manufactured caskets that come in options of soft wood. We also have found a wicker option that is made from sustainable material. These caskets break down more readily into compounds that are easily reabsorbed into the natural environment.
Environmentally-friendly caskets are also more affordable. We believe that providing affordable funeral and burial services is another positive, old-way of doing things.
Old ways, new ways, custom ways
Old, new, or a blend of the two. At Ancient Burials, we help people rest in peace-- with services tailored to meet the needs of families and communities.
Call us in a time of need, 24/7, or simply contact us by email or online, for a chat about how to planning. We will meet you at your home, a coffee shop, or wherever you're comfortable. Again our phone number is 604-308-2822 and we're available to talk with you right now.