“Over the years I have been to quite a lot of funerals. I have seen so many families of the departed having to struggle to come up with funds for a traditional funeral,” said Anderson. “I had heard of green burial or natural burial but wanted to learn more so I started researching and contacting the State and other websites on the subject, and I discovered that it is a great way to take care of our deceased without putting families left behind in a straight,” he said.
Green burial is not new. It was the most common form of burial in America until modern methods of embalming, steel caskets, and vaults took its place in the early twentieth century. Most public cemeteries now require these burial methods to be followed for interment. “Funeral homes and cemeteries have their own rules that must be followed,” added Anderson.
However a turn to a more economically comfortable alternative is on the rise, according to local funeral home Director Eddie Brannon with Max, Brannon and Sons Funeral Home.
“Max Brannon & Sons Funeral Home understands that more and more local families are searching for eco-friendly funeral alternatives. In fact, 21 percent of Americans over 50 would prefer an eco-friendly end-of-life ritual, according to a 2007 AARP national research report,” said Brannon. “We see demand for green funerals and cremation increasing and are ready to meet the changing needs of our families.”
In Anderson’s research into requirements for burial in Georgia, he unearthed some helpful information.
“Many have the misconception that embalming is routine but the State does not require embalming - a body does not have to be embalmed, but it does have to be kept or preserved from decay and properly buried or cremated within a short amount of time,” said Anderson. “Having the body placed in a steel casket and vault for thousands of dollars is not a requirement either. Decomposition starts quickly and embalming delays this but so does refrigeration. You must also file for a death certificate within 72 hours of the time of death and before final disposition,” he added.
Max Brannon and Sons Funeral Home do offer a “Natural Funeral Package,” which consists of embalmment of the deceased with or without non-toxic chemicals, biodegradable urns and eco-friendly caskets, as well as choices for natural burial or cremation.
Similarly, Thomas Funeral Home does offer natural burial at the request of the family.
“The southeast is very traditional. Most of Gordon County is very traditional,” said Bruce Thomas, funeral director for Thomas Funeral Home. “Many families desire Christian services and a Christian ceremony here. Regional customs are everywhere and green burial is not really a new concept.” Thomas added that Thomas Funeral Home is committed to meeting the death care needs of this community saying, “I would be happy to do whatever type of burial a family wants to do.”
For Anderson, bringing a new idea to an old creation is a goal he has set for himself to help provide affordable alternatives for residents.
“My goal is twofold: to educate people in Northwest Georgia that green burial is an alternative; and to eventually establish a green service and cemetery option here whether through our funeral homes and existing cemeteries or by raising funds to establish a green cemetery and green burial service,” he said.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Bible makes it very simple. When we die our spirit leaves this world and the body goes back to the earth. Why make it more difficult for the body to do that once the spirit has gone? When you know that death is coming it is best to make the arrangements. A family has a right to personally deal with preparation and burial of their deceased.”
Anderson has established a website for Gordon County green burial. Those interested in seeking more information and education on natural burial in our area may go to www.greenburialofgordoncounty.com.