Burial Rituals

Burial Services

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What to Expect

Although no two burials at Heritage Acres are exactly alike, this list provides a general idea of what you can expect. For a typical natural burial, you may:

  • arrive at the cemetery and be greeted by someone from Heritage Acres, who will gladly answer any questions you may have;
  • participate in a procession to the gravesite (please wear shoes suitable for uneven ground);
  • see a grave that is decorated with flowers and native vegetation. For a body burial, expect slats and ropes to extend across the opening of the grave until the body is lowered;
  • find flowers, pine boughs, twigs, or other biomass covering the bottom of the grave to promote aeration and decay;
  • facilitate a ceremony or service, if desired;
  • participate in lowering the body into the ground, if desired;
  • help fill the grave with soil, if desired;
  • help cover the burial mound with flowers and native plants.

From Death to Final Resting Place

Upon death, a body is usually turned over to a funeral home, to be prepared for burial professionally. (We say “usually” because, contrary to popular opinion, this is not legally required. A family or church community or others can care for and prepare the body for burial on their own. This is commonly called a “home funeral,” but is in fact simply caring for the body prior to burial and preparing the body for burial).

Currently, there are two legally acceptable methods of body disposition in Ohio — body burial and cremation. If the body is being cremated, Heritage Acres requires the addition of a soil amendment mixture called Let Your Love Grow. We will handle that process when the ashes arrive at Heritage Acres; it will not be done by the crematory or funeral home.

Otherwise, if a body burial is chosen, here is an overview of what will happen at the funeral home (or even in a “home funeral”): First the body will be washed and dressed, and then kept cool (refrigerated) until it is time to bring it to Heritage Acres. It is important to note that a few things are imperative for a natural or “green” burial: The body cannot be embalmed. The body must be clothed in all-natural fabrics (this means no polyester or synthetic fabrics, no zippers, metal buttons or belt buckles, etc.) Finally, the body must be in an all-natural and fully biodegradable container (for example, an all-cotton shroud, an unfinished wooden casket with no nails or screws, a woven bamboo or wicker casket, etc.). The rule of thumb is: everything that goes into the earth must be natural and biodegradable (the only exceptions are internal medical parts such as pacemakers, replacement knees, etc.; Heritage Acres does not require those to be removed prior to burial).

On the day of burial, the funeral home or loved ones will transport the body — which must be ready for burial — to Heritage Acres. At that point, the body is removed from the hearse, van, truck or other vehicle, and placed on our hand-drawn wooden cart. The grave has already been dug, by hand, the day before, and is ready. There is typically a procession with the body to the gravesite, where the casket or shrouded body is placed on boards that go over the grave during any graveside memorial service. Then the body is lowered into the grave by hand, using straps, and the grave is filled in with dirt.

With our help, loved ones are welcome to participate in most of these processes (moving the body, the procession, lowering the body, filling in the grave) with our help. Upon filling in the grave, there is a mound created, which will be decorated with flowers, etc. Many families choose to add a marker at some point later, but all graves are also recorded with GPS coordinates.

We hope this overview of the natural burial process has been helpful. However, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 513-231-6438.


Ritual is energy medicine for the collective body.

Sarah Kerr, Ph.D.

A natural burial at Heritage Acres lovingly offers friends and family members the opportunity to honor and commemorate, in their own unique and personal way, the life of someone who has died. We provide many options for those who are seeking death practices and rituals that are meaningful and intentional about strengthening the bonds we all share with the earth, and with each other.

A graveside ceremony might include readings, prayers, music, eulogies, and stories about the lost loved one, and also rituals such as helping to lower the body into the grave, closing the grave with dirt, and tossing flowers into the grave. A minister or spiritual leader may be present to officiate the event, if desired. The ceremony may conclude with a picnic or gathering after the burial when friends and family members can commune with each other and take the needed time to share memories and support one another through the grieving process. There is no extra fee or charge to have these services at Heritage Acres.

There is no one right way to grieve, and Heritage Acres is committed to holding space for people to physically process their grief. Although a ceremony is optional, it can be a powerful way to facilitate our human and instinctive call to grieve, to share tears and sadness, to find laughter and healing. All family members and friends are encouraged to participate, as they are comfortable, in a green burial ceremony. It can be a deeply spiritual, transformative, and visceral experience that anchors everyone involved to the beauty of the landscape and the natural cycle of life and death.

Contact Us

Are you interested in learning more about Heritage Acres? Would you like to get involved? Do you have suggestions or feedback for us? We’d love to hear from you.

Sanctuary Address:

796 Locust Corner Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45245

Mailing Address:

2710 Newtown Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45244

Phone: (513) 231-6438

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