A funeral home exhibiting on Earth Day? Absolutely! Wm. Sullivan & Son Funeral Directors has been successful for more than 100 years by responded to the changing needs and priorities of the families we serve, and interest in green funerals and burials is growing.
At the Royal Oak and Rochester events, our Michelle O’Hara and Jim Stark displayed biodegradable caskets and shrouds, gave away Norway Spruce saplings and distributed information. Visitors ranged from skeptical to enthusiastic.
“A lot of the younger generation folks were really into the idea,” Michelle said. “They said this is what they want and were happy we were there talking about it.”
Michelle and Jim shared information about The Preserve, the only Detroit area cemetery offering green burials. There, bodies in a biodegradable container are buried in a natural preserve, native trees and grasses dominate the landscape, but with no headstone. In some areas of the Preserve they allow for stones found on the property to be engraved.
The lead-up to a green burial may look no different from traditional funeral preparations. Whether funeral directors use eco-friendly embalming fluid, dry ice or forego embalming, families can hold traditional visitations or have a ceremony in a church.
“For most people, this was a real surprise,” Michelle said. “We want to get the word out.”
These days, over 50% of families choose cremation over traditional burial. Michelle and Jim showed guests an alternative to cremation and traditional burial. For those who still want to be cremated they displayed a biodegradable urn which can be buried in a natural area such as the Preserve or buried at sea.
In Rochester, Michelle and Jim parked a distance from the downtown exhibit area and carted their woven bamboo casket to their tent.
“People were so surprised when we were rolling the casket into the area,” Michelle said. “You should have seen the faces. The looks we got were priceless. It did lead to even more discussion and education on the topic of green alternatives. Overall it was a great experience for us and those who visited.”
People seeking more information can attend a free informational dinner on Thursday, June 6 at 6 p.m. at Filippa’s Tap and Barrel, 45125 Mound Rd., Shelby Township. Michelle will join a representative from The Preserve to provide information about green funerals and burials. To RSVP, call 586-731-2411.