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Sep 13, 2022

Elizabeth Fournier always wanted to work in funeral service. She was drawn to the service in this profession, and fascinated by its technical skills. Today she works "for a better living" - with Nature's tech - and she's proudly known far and wide as The Green Reaper.


Fournier is a national advocate for Green Burial, practices that are changing her profession's enviro impacts, and helping her fellow humans better connect Life to our Earthly nature, at Life's end.

She compares the importance of ecological funerals to our society's everyday efforts to decrease human impacts - by supporting renewable energy, by driving hybrid or electric cars, by eating healthy foods, by promoting sustainable agriculture, by using their own cloth bags at the grocery store, and so on. Fournier celebrates how the ideas of a green lifestyle are carrying over to how we handle the dead.

Fournier's Cornerstone Funeral Services, outside Portland OR, makes her the Undertaker of Boring (OR), her tiny rural town. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Green Burial Council, and lives on a farm with her husband, daughter, and many rescue goats. Her 2018 Green Burial Guidebook details the practical changes she champions. 

THANKS to Andy Heaslet, Earthworms audio engineer, and to Jon Valley of KDHX Production.

Related Earthworms Conversations: Greenwood Cemetery: History, Community, Profound Restoration (Jan 2018, - update April 2022)

Walking Sacred Ground with Robert Fishbone, artist of Labyrinths (Sept 2019)

In the Company of Trees with Forest Bathing advocate Andrea Sarubbi Fareshteh (Jan 2018)

Earthworms Host Note: After years of learning and talking about these sustainable options, I attended a Green Burial this summer. Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum, a venerable St. Louis historic site, is a national leader in advancing Green Burial. Their service for a dear friend's sister, Mary Ann, was simple and moving. Her body was wrapped in a linen shroud, so her physical form was right there with us. She was a tall woman.

Gracie, one of Bellefontaine's staff I know through Green work, led her crew in bringing Mary Ann's body to the grave site, drawn on a wooden cart with big metal wheels. A wreath of flowers lay over her heart. The open grave was shallow, maybe only three feet deep, lined with a profusion of plant matter! In the center of the mass of pine boughs, prairie grasses and all kinds of flowers was a circle of sunflower blooms. 

After the simple service, Bellefontaine staff lowered Mary Ann's body into the grave with long fabric straps. No machinery, no concrete, no elaborate box. Simply a human body, laid gently into Earth. Three huge urns of flowers and leafy branches were waiting by the grave.

Everyone joined in covering Mary Ann with these beautiful plants, and then we could take turns adding shovels from the pile of soil removed from the grave. The stuff of Earth will energize Earth's processes of decomposition, over time. No chemicals, nothing toxic. Everything formerly living, returning to Earth.

I noted the trees around the gravesite Mary Ann had chosen. Oaks, the mightiest hosts of insect life, supporting and restoring bonds in the Web of Life our species works so hard to break. Elements of Body, Mind, Feeling and Spirit - all there, in a quiet and simple way. What a gift to be there on that summer day.   - Jean Ponzi



Links: Greeenwood, Forest Bathing, previous Green Burial?