If you are considering a backyard burial, think carefully about what it may mean for the property itself and the person who owns it (which may be yourself). All other issues aside, burying someone on private land impacts the future sale of that property. In addition, however remote the concern may be, you should consider how you’d feel, and what you would do, if your deceased loved one resided on property that you no longer owned.
For instance, depending on the type of property, the land could become fundamentally unmarketable to succeeding buyers if the interred body isn’t relocated, and even then, a stigma might remain that makes selling the tract difficult. Not only that, exhuming and transferring a body is expensive. However, even if this isn’t done and the property is sold, family members and others won’t necessarily have access to the property to visit the gravesite anymore. Perhaps most unsettling of all, what if the land is sold and developed for a different use, one that rattles the bones in their resting place?
In light of these issues, reflect on all the possible outcomes before committing to creating a private burial ground on residentially zoned property. Further, don’t make this decision without legal guidance and consultation, and begin the planning process well in advance. It can involve a lot of paperwork.
But do not let these cautions discourage you if this is your dream or the final wishes of someone you love. I am truly finding that people are increasingly embracing the mindset of ashes to ashes and dust to dust, and many families I have served would not have done it any other way.
Elizabeth Fournier wrote: In addition, however remote the concern may be, you should consider how you’d feel, and what you would do, if your deceased loved one resided on property that you no longer owned.
Elizabeth, I think all of your caveats are important to consider. Our intention is to own the land until we die and will it to either a permie or to the Texas Ornithological Society (I want the permie, my husband wants the Ornithological Society). We may be able to have the land protected by a Conservancy for its primary purpose as habitat for native flora and fauna, but need to look into that more to see if it is feasible for our small tract (20 acres). As it is, all the land along our stretch of road is deed-restricted against most forms of development besides homestead, farming, and wildlife management.
My deceased loved ones who have been buried in caskets all reside on land which I don't own. Those who have been cremated have been returned to the Earth or the Sea. In any case I don't have control over what happens to their particles, so I am not overly concerned about what happens to our remains once the meat is off our bones, which is supposed to only take a few weeks underground. If for some reason our skeletons have to be dug up and moved, I hope no one is upset by it but instead thinks "Human skeletons? How cool!"
Hi, Tyler. Thank you so much for your well-thought-out purpose, and for your very helpful comments for all who are reading. For those of you who are new to this thread, please make sure you double check to make sure private land burial in your specific state, as well as your specific county, is legal.
When I first heard of green burial, I was immediately excited. At the time, I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, and a local non-profit opened up a green cemetery with natural burial as a small revenue generator for the other work they do promoting peace and justice and getting immigrant farmers back on arable land (they operate a farm incubator on the property): https://farleycenter.org. Erica Colmenares, it wasn't there at the Farley Center in Verona that your mom was buried, was it? It's an amazingly beautiful spot, and I think they do incredible work. The organization I worked for at the time held a small retreat/meeting there one year (another service offered by the Center) and we ambled through the sanctuary/cemetery on a break. Although I'd been a fan of their work in all areas for some time by then, it was the first chance I'd had to spend time there in person.
I'd love to know of other places making natural burial available -- especially in Arizona, where I am now -- as well as resources for doing it on one's own land legally. Would the best source for this information be your book, Elizabeth?
Hi Beth! I suggest checking my book out from the library because some of that info will be there. All states have their own rules, so you will need to check with your county zoning and planning for the rest.
I love the Farley Center!
The Green Reaper
Aaaaaand ... we're on the march. Stylin. Get with it tiny ad.