Would you like to have your say? Contact us about arranging a discussion around alternatives to traditional burials and new kinds of cemeteries and memorial parks – we offer a thought provoking documentary, and a facilitator if you would like some guidance.
Some African storytelling ….
We derive from dust, we return to dust, if looking from a natural perspective
* Most communities know a sober way of burials (e.g. Khoi San, Black African burials). This changed over time.
Nowadays one sees lavish funerals ceremonies….
* Presently, Cape Town, like other metros in South Africa, face some challenges:
– Space: there is no more space on public cemeteries to bury people. (from ‘playing field to dying fields’??) Public cemeteries take up a huge space (Maitland cemetery is the size of the equivalent of 140 soccer fields). Land that once dedicated to bury people, cannot be used for spaces such as community parks. The City of Cape Town faces challenges maintaining the public cemeteries.
– Environment: some burials are rather unfriendly for the environment: from ‘DUST to DIRT’. Embalming deceased people leaves toxins in the earth, likewise with the materials used for some coffins (brass, etc). (Transport of big amounts of people uses energy as well).
– Some funerals leave relatives with a considerable ‘DEBT AFTER DEATH’. Most funeral policies do not suffice to cover the costs; Some insurance brokers break their promise when it comes to a pay out.
Therefore: let’s look at the options, and… Create space for change
We need to reflect on our mindset ……
What are the alternatives?
To start with the most extreme: we can start thinking differently about
– commemorating our deceased (see www.design boom.com: designing for death competition) e.g. putting an artwork to reflect on those that passed on …..
– we can bury people in memorial parks (see www.legacyparks.co.za) and carry out ‘green burials’
– we can bury people in an environmentally friendly wrapper (Muslim burials, without a coffin)
– we can do cremations
Or even a little bit more unusual
– we can donate our body to science (to become a ‘silent mentor’ for medical students after death)
– we can do ‘sky burials’ and donate our body to feed the vultures
As the challenges are connected, so are the solutions
We need many partners to create space for change:
– Business society (funeral insurance industry, undertakers)
– Communities (e.g SAFCEI)
– but most of all we need PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME to reflect on their death (as it is part of life), get informed about the options (look at other cultures, enjoy diversity) once you make up your mind: discuss with relatives, put it on paper do it timeously, e.g. when deciding on your funeral policy
And then, who knows…..
We’ll have green burials, memorials parks to be enjoyed by the living as well and individual choices and creativity that suits people and the earth……
END OF STORY…