by Ruth Faas
In 1984 my father died suddenly. Coming from a working class family, we had to use the least expensive casket and I instantly thought—“People will think we didn’t love him!” My brother gets frustrated with me when I tell this story, and I understand that—I would never think this of someone else. Yet, we don’t always know what we’ve internalized.
Given that background, it would be unexpected that, at Mourning Dove Studio, I’ve joined forces with Carol Motley to make and sell the cardboard coffins that she invented—but what happened is that I found out about natural burial.
Natural burial completely changes the paradigm of linking how much money we spend on a funeral with how much we loved someone!
Natural burial also gives us more options in how we can grieve and honor someone. This is especially important during this challenging and sometimes heart-breaking time.
This video was made by the daughter of a man who died from coronavirus. Decorating one of our cardboard coffins helped the family honor him through his deep love of nature and made it possible to say goodbye in this way.
There’s a nonprofit in Boston, Spirit of the Earth, Carry Me Home, that was started to support low-income and undocumented families, recognizing the pain during this pandemic of not being able to be with our loved ones while they are sick and when they have died, which uses cardboard coffins as the starting point.
Here’s an excerpt from the description of the project: “I invite us to tend to the vessels that will carry the bodies of our beloveds. Where we will fill the vessel with all of the hugs we could not give, write the notes with the words we didn’t get to say…"
Can we imagine together, in these times, when we are discovering what is most important, another possibility? In these moments of physical isolation, and social distancing, of limited economic resources, can we imagine that we can make beauty? That we can find a way of reclaiming agency and get creative, just like our ancestors did, and temporarily adapt... or create a new normal?
Ruth Faas is the long-time co-owner of Mourning Dove Studio in Arlington, MA, and a GBC-certified product provider. For more on her coffins, caskets, and shrouds, go to https://mourningdovestudio.com
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