Theresa’s Green Burial


One of our families chose a simple shroud, rather than a casket, for a loved one’s green burial. This is Theresa’s story, seen through the eyes of those who were there…

“From the first moment I saw Theresa’s body, wrapped in a white linen shroud, being carried to her open grave, I was overcome with awe,” Thomas said.

Officiating a funeral service was not a new role for Thomas, as he’d been a Roman Catholic priest in parish work for a dozen years. But this particular service, taking place on an island cemetery hillside, struck him as something different—deeply moving, even humbling.

The sight of Theresa’s shrouded body—lying so simply, even starkly, on wooden planks stretched across a freshly dug grave—strongly affected many others present that day. Rich dark earth, roots and stones, and a luminous green frame of clover and grass complemented the linen shroud’s natural purity, with crafted folds knotted across Theresa’s body, outlining the contours of her form.

Each person there was invited to place their flowers in the folds of Theresa’s shroud. One friend had already tucked two little teddy bears and a letter from her daughter inside, next to Theresa’s heart. When they finished adorning her, Theresa was covered in color and beauty and fragrance. “With great care and tenderness,” the young men who chose to be Theresa’s attendants, working together, slowly unfurled the shroud’s straps and lowered her gently into the earth. Thomas took handfuls of rose petals from a basket and sprinkled them reverently down on the body as a final act of committal and blessing.

In Thomas’s words: “I think the power of the moment, for all of those gathered, was the incredible beauty of seeing the sheathed body of someone they loved, and will always love, returned with such dignity to the earth, from which we are all formed in the beginning.”

“Speaking for myself, I do not think that any of us there that day will ever be quite the same. And that is a good thing.”