When people find out I hang around in cemeteries, one question that's inevitable is: "where do you want to be buried?" The answer, for a very long time, has been "nowhere". I didn't want to be buried at all, because - forgive me for being blunt here - I couldn't stand the thought of rotting (severe eczema in childhood will have that effect). I like cremation: it's quick, it's easy and - with a bit of luck - there's no memorial spot for my friends and relations to neglect after I'm gone. And I like fire.
But I'm really worried about the environmental impact. Assuming that the Natural Death Centre have their figure right, I don't want my last act on earth to be the equivalent of a 500 mile car journey. What to do?
Chums, I've figured out what to do. Woodland burial is it. Here's how I found out.
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I spent an utterly brilliant day at the London Funeral Exhibition at Epping Forest Burial Park (no indeed; Epping is definitely not London). Burial at the park is done in an environmentally sustainable way: that means biodegradable coffins, wooden memorials only, in land that - once it's full - will revert to natural woodland.
It's a gorgeous site, which just feels like part of Epping Forest. Until, that is, you're walking through the woodland and come across small clearings with wooden markers, some decorated, many not, then you spot the newer graves... And it feels like being buried there would be returning my atoms to the dust whence they came: I like the idea of feeding trees very much.
Many thanks to the following for an excellent time:
- Paula and Kevin for lifts to the station and not telling me I'm crazy
- the other staff of the Woodland Burial Parks Group for their obvious love of their jobs
- Dr Hannah Rumble for the lecture on natural burial
- Rosie from the Natural Death Centre: let's get open-air cremation in the UK!
- Mervyn from the Institute of Civil Funerals for explaining why they're not humanists (and calling me "dogmatic" - he's right)
- the horses for an excellent trip round the park.
Visiting: Epping tube station and a cab, or drive. Kinda ironic that an environmentally sensitive burial site can only be reached by car. But also inevitable. Photography not an issue (be sensitive to livings, of which there were a few): on finding out about my website, at least three members of staff asked me "have you brought your camera?"