Why It’s Critical to Choose a Conservation Green Burial Now with Covid — and Why Conservation Sanctuaries Need You

“Zia” was a strong-willed and independent woman who became interested in organic farming later in life. She endured a difficult childhood on the streets and beaches of San Francisco, but found her purpose while working as an intern on a biodynamic farm on the Hawaiian island, Kauai. There she discovered the tropical beauty and regeneration in the plants and foods that sustained her. …


How can we find meaning or hope when we each are in the midst of major and minor life changes brought on by a pandemic virus — from the loss of a loved one who died from the virus, or the loss of work, or financial losses, etc.? Learning about the pain of other people in countries around the world can give us a sense of perspective, sometimes revealing that our challenges are not quite as complex as others with many levels of suffering. But having compassion is not the same as having empathy for others or ourselves. …


7 Steps from Empathy to Accompany Grief

“Everyone has grief,” said my mentor when I was reeling knee-deep in anticipatory grief over my husband’s near-death stroke. Only later did I realize that because we are born into a body that will die, sooner or later we will be left behind. In turn, we will leave behind those who love us, and they will grieve for us. But in that moment all I could hope for was to be heard in my grief.

This need for grieving has been part of our humanity for millions of years, since we evolved from…


Detail from ceiling of Persian mausoleum

How many of us go through life only to find ourselves suddenly faced with someone’s death, caught in a state of shock, numbness, confusion, or even paralysis. We awaken one morning to find a tsunami of sudden loss and all the feelings that accompany this experience of overwhelm. A tragic accident, a sudden heart attack, suicide, mass shooting — these are part of our mindset in an instant when we have the world online and in our hands.

How can we cope with not only our personal losses and deaths, but also those now at our fingertips? This is the…


3 Vital Reasons to Avoid Cremation (who knew?!)

Most Americans believe they are doing “the right thing” when they elect a cremation for their deathcare. After all, it saves on land use and cemetery space, and many urban cemeteries are filling up. Cremation is cheaper than a conventional funeral/burial, and it tends to “simplify” deathcare when people would rather not look at their death, avoid the grief of funeral homes, and the expense of a memorial service and all the trimmings which can easily add up to $25k or more.

When my mother died of severe dementia about 8 years…


A New Way to Find Sanity in Life in the 21st century

Throughout my private practice in homeopathic medicine with a specialty in mental/emotional problems for over twenty years, I listened to many patients who were struggling with grief. In classical homeopathy, a form of medicine practiced in Europe since the 1700’s that has its roots in Ancient India, there are numerous natural medicines for complicated grief, depression, shock, anger, and other overextended stages of grief. This is not to say that grief is a “diagnosis” — grief certainly is a natural, normal and universally-experienced response to final loss.

Yet…


On the Cycles of Life & Death, Love & Grief

Just over a century after his death John Muir (1839–1914) offers us a natural model of death and green end-of-life care, an offering that comes as a breath of fresh air with our 21st century industrialization of death. Despite the social mores of the 1870’s, when the post-Civil War ushered in the Victorian funeral industry, Muir called for a natural view of death. …


What to do for Yourself & the Earth for the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

  1. Begin your journey on the river of life and death. When you consciously “put your canoe in the river of life and death” be aware that this river will have challenges along the way. Find the gift in looking at your own death: the preciousness of your relatively brief life. Tell your loved ones today how much you love them. Say it often enough (for them). Say it every day (for you). Say it every day because today or tomorrow could be your last day.


1. The Earth — Giving your body and a lifetime of nutrients back to the Earth helps restore the Earth’s biome, the local ecosystem, and the soil for many generations to come. Planting a tree or seeding a wildflower plot gives us a way to create new life and new hope for the world.

2. Your Wallet — On average the least cost for a conservation green burial is under $1,000. This is less than the average cost for cremation ($6,000) or conventional burial ($7,000 and up!).

3. Celebrations or Memorials in Nature — Many families find comfort and even…

Dr. Diana Cunningham

Director of the John Muir Memorial Green Burial Sanctuary, a groundbreaking environmental start-up project at https://greenburialsanctuary.com

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