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When a Death Has Occurred
The death of a loved one is a painful and difficult time for those who are left behind. We at Heritage Acres offer our sincere sympathy, and are here to help you navigate the various steps needed to give your loved one a simple, dignified natural burial.
When a death has occurred, you will need to report it to the authorities – contact the hospice nurse, family physician or sheriff’s department. One of the first things you will be asked is “What funeral home do you want to use?” Heritage Acres recommends Weil-Kahn Funeral Home, though we will be glad to work with any funeral home that is willing to provide services in accordance with our rules and regulations for a green burial. If you want a body burial (rather than cremation), make certain your preferred funeral home will not embalm the body, that the body will be dressed only in natural fiber clothing, and that the burial container (casket, shroud) is all-natural and fully biodegradable.
Please note that in the State of Ohio, you are not legally required to work with a funeral home. For more information about caring for the body of the deceased at home or in a religious community, Heritage Acres recommends you promptly reach out to Mary Manera (513-470-2973, Email). You can learn more about “home funerals” through the National Home Funeral Alliance.
There are five things you will need to consider when arranging for a natural burial at Heritage Acres:
The body may need to be moved from the place of death to wherever it will be cared for prior to burial. It will also need to be transported to Heritage Acres for burial. Most families will want to use the services of a funeral home for transportation.
The body will need to be kept cool until the time of burial. This is particularly important when there is no embalming, as is the case in a natural or “green” burial. Burial can sometimes take place days, or even a week or two, after death. Again, most families will choose to have the body refrigerated at a local funeral home.
Care of the Body
The body should be lovingly and respectfully cared for – including washing, dressing and perhaps shrouding, before finally being placed in any natural burial container that may be chosen.
A funeral home should be contacted for filing the death certificate and other paperwork related to burial.
Please contact Heritage Acres (513-231-6438) soon after a death has occurred. We will help guide you through the process, discussing resources and offering options as you make plans to honor the final wishes of your loved one. Right from your initial call, a member of the Heritage Acres team will be available to reassure you, and to help you every step of the way. We will also be in close contact with your chosen funeral home throughout, coordinating services and preparing for the burial.
A Note about Cremation
People sometimes wonder if you can be cremated and still have a natural burial. The answer is yes — but cremation presents certain challenges to an environmentally friendly burial, as outlined here.
At Heritage Acres, we require that buried ashes be amended with Let Your Love Grow, the product described in this article, before burial, in order to neutralize their alkalinity and make them bioavailable for surrounding soil and plant life. If you are seeking a cremation burial, Heritage Acres will work with you in much the same way we do for a body burial, simply with the added step of amending the ashes prior to burial. And remember — cremation offers a more flexible and open-ended timeline in terms of when burial of ashes takes place; sometimes, burials are months or even years after death.
Burial Rights (body)
(includes the right to be buried in the meadow section of Heritage Acres and administrative and record-keeping services)
Burial Rights (ashes)
$950 (in meadow) to $1,950 (in woods)
(includes the right to bury ashes in a green burial section of Heritage Acres and administrative and record-keeping services)
Burial Rights for Pets
(includes burial of a deceased pet’s body or ashes, or scattering rights thereof, in a section of Heritage Acres designated for pets)
Grave Digging / Site Preparation
(payable at time of service)
- (body burial) - $500
- (ashes burial) - $250
- (pets)- $100
At this time, plans are being developed for a designated section of memorial trees at Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary. Please note that these trees will be “in memory of” an individual (or in honor of a family) – complete with a marker – but the trees will not be in a burial section and cannot be located at or on a specific grave. When the design of the memorial tree section is complete, pricing for in memoriam trees will be made available.
Burial containers, shrouds, urns and the like must be obtained and provided by the person or persons making burial arrangements. Heritage Acres will make available a list of recommended businesses, vendors and craftspersons who make and sell these products. Heritage Acres does not provide, make or offer any burial products, and is not responsible for them.
The body or ashes should arrive at Heritage Acres ready for burial or inurnment; transportation is the responsibility of the person or persons making burial arrangements. Heritage Acres can provide recommendations regarding transportation, but is not responsible for transportation to the Sanctuary.
Obituaries, announcements and the like are the responsibility of the person or persons making burial arrangements. Graveside or other memorial services also must be arranged and paid for separately by the person or persons making burial arrangements. There may be times when Heritage Acres staff or volunteers can assist with graveside or memorial services, but no express commitment is made herein to provide such services.
Shrouds, Caskets, Urns, and Markers
At Heritage Acres, you have four interment options:
- Body Burial in the meadow using a shroud or casket
- Cremation Burial in the meadow (with or without an urn)
- Cremation Burial in the woods (with or without an urn)
- Scattering of ashes in the scatter garden
A natural or “green” burial means that only natural, biodegradable materials are used for a shroud or burial container, if chosen. There are no concrete vaults used in green burial, and no caskets or urns made with sealants, toxic paints, exotic or precious materials, varnished wood, or metals.
Caskets and coffins are often made of bamboo, seagrass, willow, and pine. When these materials biodegrade, they help restore balance to depleted soils. A pine casket is a good sustainable and renewable choice. Pine is abundant and it grows quickly. Caskets can be handmade or purchased, but avoid caskets made from exotic trees or trees that escalate deforestation.
If an urn is used for an ash burial, it must be biodegradable. A burial urn might be made from non-toxic recycled paper, sand, clay, or even a home-grown gourd can serve as a burial urn.
A burial shroud is a piece of cloth, blanket, or quilt used to wrap a body. If a shroud is used, Heritage Acres requires shrouds that are made from natural and biodegradable cloth, such as cotton, wool, hemp, linen, or silk. A shroud could be a handsewn decorative piece of tapestry, or it might be a simple quilt or blanket that has special value. Avoid synthetic materials that take many years to break down.
Grave locations are tracked and archived using GPS coordinates. If a grave maker is desired, stones measuring no larger than 12 x 18 inches can be used. These stones may be carved to help identify the grave. Following a burial, graves at Heritage Acres will eventually level out and provide growth for native plants and vegetation. Over time, as the landscape changes, graves may become difficult to locate. By using GPS coordinates, you can locate a grave over the years regardless of how the landscape evolves.
Where to Get Green Burial Products
Our recommended funeral home, Weil-Kahn near Loveland, Ohio, has a selection of green burial caskets and shrouds. The Green Burial Council also provides a helpful list of GBC Certified Product Providers. You can access a wonderful array of natural, handmade funeral and burial products at the Funerary Artisans Collective.
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.
796 Locust Corner Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45245
2710 Newtown Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45244
Phone: (513) 231-6438