Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial

Mark Harris, Author . Scribner $24 (193p) ISBN 978-0-7432-7768-6

Harris's case for an eco-friendly burial is also an argument for a graceful and productive afterlife. Avoiding embalming keeps funeral waste out of our sewers, while burial in a shroud or cardboard coffin saves trees; these approaches can also bring the living back in touch with the cycle of life, he argues. Following in the footsteps of Jessica Mitford (author of The American Way of Death ), Harris discusses the ways in which Americans have shifted care of the dead out of the hands and homes of friends and family as he tours various burial options, from the most environmentally intrusive to the least. His graphic description of an embalming offers a sharp contrast to a burial in a biodegradable coffin in a nature reserve, where the decaying body will help restore the environment. Embalming is also expensive ($12,376) compared to burial in an artificial reef (between $995 and $4,995 after the $1,800 cremation). Acknowledging that burial requires a series of difficult decisions in the midst of devastating emotions, this practical, powerful and affirming book succeeds as a survey of burial methods, a collection of true stories and a resource guide. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 208 pages - 978-0-7432-9928-2
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