By Steve Johnson
“Ashes to ashes; dust to dust.”
Its origins come from Genesis 3:19 (King James Verison): “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
We celebrate death in so many different ways. From sky burials in Tibet, to hanging coffins in ancient China, how we honor the dead is varied and changing.
In the United States and Canada, vault burials have grown in popularity since the early 1900s. With more than 19,000 funeral homes and 8,000 embalmers in the U.S. alone according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
So when Reuters contacted me about a conservation cemetery, one of four in the country, I was intrigued with the very niche market.
After more than two months of research and repeated visits to the Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, we found a source willing to work with us to document this process. Working on such a sensitive subject, it is hard not to feel for your source. Joseph Fitzgerald died at age 47 -- just days after his granddaughter was born.