New Hampshire community delays “Green Burial” decisions

A New Hampshire community has again delayed – until at least Spring 2022 – the decision on an ordinance to allow “Green Burials” in two city owned cemeteries.  The City Manager of Lebanon City, New Hampshire, Shaun Mulholland, was quoted in this article from Valley News as saying, “This has gone on for two years now.  It really shouldn’t have gone on this long, quite frankly.”

Mulholland was referring to the decision made in early December that the Lebanon City Council will now take up, discuss, and vote on a revised ordinance at its first meeting in March.

At issue is where and how “Green Burials” will take place in the community.  For instance, the city operates two cemeteries – Old Pine Tree Cemetery and West Lebanon Cemetery.  The ordinance as written would make natural, or green, burials an option in West Lebanon Cemetery, but not in Old Pine Tree Cemetery.  It was opposed in Old Pine Tree Cemetery, at least by some, because the pine roots in the cemetery would make hand-digging of graves difficult.

Other issues of contention to be decided include:

  • Does a burial vault requirement stand as it does for “Traditional” burials?
  • Would a non-resident be eligible for burial?
  • What is the option for natural burials in the winter months when the ground is frozen and no backhoes are to be used?
  • Do “Natural Burials” constitute cemetery workers handling “human remains”?

Funeral Director Daily take:  I suggest reading the linked article — it is very interesting.  I don’t really think it matters what the issues are.  This is simply the age old disagreement between doing what has always been done and the idea of doing something new and different that not all people are in agreement with.

Quite frankly, people who see something “new and different” at first have hesitation about it simply because it is “new and different” and they cannot see somebody’s reason for wanting to try it.

Getting to understand something new and different takes time and I refer to it as “Natural Enlightenment”.  It takes time, but Natural Enlightenment happens all the time and we are better for it.  For instance, many of you know that I served on the Board of the University of Minnesota.  That school, like many Land-Grant institutions, has many more applicants that it can accept for admission.  Historically, the first acceptance eliminating criteria was a person’s score on their ACT test.  It was just a given – for the last 30 years.

Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

For years colleges and their admission counselors resisted the cry of those who do not “Test” well to look more wholistically at an application before jettisoning it.  It’s only been fairly recently – the last couple of years – that many Land Grant colleges have moved away from the ACT-only first criteria. . . . now recognizing – thru Natural Enlightenment – that there is more to a prospective student than just their ACT score.  Now, at most colleges, credit is given for high school grade achievement, level of courses attempted, and extra curricular activity.

Our country, has moved through periods of Natural Enlightenment also.  We’ve now eliminated slavery (1863), allowed women to vote (1919), passed a civil rights law (1964), passed laws on non-discrimination and gender equity (Title IX – 1972).  We look back and wonder how we could have allowed those prejudices in the past.  In time, we become Naturally Enlightened.

One period of Natural Enlightenment for me was going to church on Saturday nights.  For the longest period of time, regular church attendance was on Sunday morning for me and when our church opened Saturday night services I almost looked at it as blasphemous thinking, “Who would go on Saturday night?”.  Guess what? . . . I’m enlightened now. . . and much prefer going on Saturday nights!!!

So, those who believe in the newer twists of death care — green or natural burials,  alkaline hydrolysis (water cremation), alkaline hydrolysis 2.0 (flameless cremation), resomation (human composting), or solidified remains. . . you just have to keep on moving forward.  My prediction is that as the general public learns of your process it will become more and more accepted. . . . . in the death care realm, it is not much different than cremation was in America in 1950.  In the meantime, the battles, as in Lebanon City, sometimes occur.

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