"A Will for the Woods" made its international debut at Full Frame in Durham, NC in April 2013. This is the documentary about the birth of Green Burial at Pine Forest and the young doctor who brought the request.
The only GBC approved Natural Burial Ground in NC
2011 recipient of Wake Forest "Corporate" Green Medal Award
2012 recipient of Wake Forest "Corporate" Green Medal Award
The Garden of Renewal is located in the woods on the other side of the pond from the memorial gardens. Burial vaults and embalming are not allowed and burial containers must be biodegradable. Some examples are bamboo, wool, pine, or a heavy natural fiber shroud. Burials are simplistic and marked by a rock that can be engraved or painted with the individual's name.
Natural green burial allows the family to mourn and take part in the grieving process in a way that modern burial usually does not. It is an humbling, quiet "saying of good-bye" surrounded by nature in the serenity of the woods, returning a body to the soil from which it came.
At Pine Forest Memorial Gardens the mourners form a procession on foot along the Path of Clark's Reflection to the Garden of Renewal, where the simple casket is lowered by hand and rope. Family and friends gather around to toss flowers in remembrance and to even help fill the grave by shovel if they chose. Their grief can be expressed and shared openly as they comfort each other.
Green Burial's Birth at Pine Forest
A few years ago, a young man, Dr. Clark Wang came to me requesting a green burial. He had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and he wanted to be responsible in the manner he chose for his final disposition. He visited the cemetery where his mother was buried and was left cold by the innumerable granite memorials and shunned the idea of the steel caskets, cement/steel vaults and toxic embalming used to bury loved ones. He thought the most responsible thing to do, in regard to helping our earth stay green, was to be cremated. Upon further research he was dismayed by the amount of green house gases that are released during cremation and perturbed by the large amount of fossil fuel used to burn a body at such extreme temperatures for hours. He knew one cremation was not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but considering the hundreds of thousands that are done every year, he knew damage was being done, albeit unintentionally, by people who thought they were doing a good thing. So, he decided that Green Burial was the way to go. With green burial he could be buried without embalming, without a vault, and the big bonus: he could help to preserve the woods and actually give something back to the earth! He began to search for where he could carry out his green burial and found, to his utter disappointment, that there was nowhere reliable and true that he could do this. He came to Pine Forest Memorial Gardens to see if we would allow a green burial, but we would not.
During the next year, Pine Forest Memorial Gardens wrestled with the pros and cons of green burial. My heart broke for this man who had been dealt a terrible hand, and yet, was still trying to be responsible to the earth in the way that he left it. I wanted to help him to be able to control something, when he felt he could control nothing. So, in August of 2009, we decided that we would, indeed, open the Garden of Renewal for green burial. The Garden of Renewal is located in the woods, on the other side of our pond, accessed by the Path of Reflection-the perfect setting for green burial. We are approved and certified by the Green Burial Council, which assures that we are green burial compliant according to the rules for a Natural Burial Ground. Pine Forest Memorial Gardens had its first green burial in June 2010.
On March 28, 2011 the Path of Reflection was officially renamed The Path of Clark's Reflection-because it truly reflected his dream and desire to make green burial available for everyone. When I texted the name change to his hospital room he was able to give it a "thumbs up" while on his death bed. Clark had become a friend...such a special friend...someone who encouraged me to do something different and dared me to make a difference for people who wanted a better option than cremation. And it has worked! The Garden of Renewal offers green burial in over half an acre in the woods that has been forever legally designated as such. There is plenty of room to expand as demand increases.
Pine Forest Memorial Gardens has become recertified from a Hybrid Burial Ground to a Natural Burial Ground, adhering to even stricter guidelines
On March 29, 2011, Clark died. On April 2, 2011, at high noon, Clark had his green burial in the Garden of Renewal. Clark's story has been filmed in the multi-award-winning documentary, A Will for the Woods, available at www.awillforthewoods.com. In the photos to the right and above you will be able to see, step-by-step, the green burial of Dr. Clark Wang.