Green Burials: A Team Member’s Reflections 

‘We commit this body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.’ Committal prayer.

I have held the role of land manager’s assistant for green burials for one year now and have assisted with the six recent burials of Leslie, Judith, Brian, Bill and Paddy, some of which I have been a pallbearer for, carrying the coffin to the graveside and lowering it down into the depths of the grave. 

Initially I had felt that my referral for this work had come as a result of my melancholy countenance and deep grieving following recent close encounters with death during the pandemic. Yet, there may have been other factors at play in the timeliness of my adoption onto the green burials team, coming as it did at the first year anniversary of my mother’s death. 

I had been concerned about how I would react when confronted up close with death and the depths of others’ grieving. I worried that it would bring these feelings of grief to the surface, triggering sadness or depression, or that I would not be able to cope with facing my deepest fears of death. 

Instead, practising mindful awareness of my feelings arising in these moments observing others’ grief is strengthening resolution to wellbeing and practising psychological resilience to my fears of death.

I have found there is nothing to be afraid of in death, beyond the veil, our reality is pulled aside like the crematorium curtain and death revealed for the everyday, natural occurrence that it is. Outside of the hospital, crematorium or churchyard there are only the elements of nature; sky and trees above and earth to be laid under. 

There is a moment when the coffin has been laid to rest at the bottom of the grave when a sense of calm and peace descends upon me for a while, a kind of loving acceptance of the passing of a life. I feel these moments strongly and sense others do too, a kind of shared oneness in life continuing after death. These moments are life affirming in their poignancy and tenderness.

James Bryson

FHT Green Burial Team Member

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Findhorn Hinterland Trust, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC045806
228 Pineridge, Findhorn, Forres, Moray IV36 3TB