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Glendon Geikie, End of Life Doula Palm Springs 

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to live forever? Have you ever thought you might like to try that? It’s an intriguing idea, but not the reality in which we live. Consequently, we know that someday we will die. We don’t particularly like to think about death. But, believe it or not, thinking about it ahead of time enhances and improves our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

There are many things to think about surrounding our deaths,  and what will happen to our bodies is one of them. Do you want a traditional burial, to be cremated, or maybe you want to consider one of the newer options that are available? You may not be aware that other options exist. Here are a few you could consider.

Green Burial: You are buried in a shroud or biodegradable basket. There is no embalming, no casket, and no concrete tomb. A typical grave is dug and your body is laid to rest on the bare ground.

Water cremation (alkaline hydrolysis): The body is placed in a pressurized steel chamber with water and a 5% alkali solution and heated to 200-300 degrees. In three to four hours all the bodily tissues are liquified, leaving just the bones. The liquid is released to be processed through the wastewater treatment facility. The bones are processed through a cremulator (just like bones from a fire cremation) and returned to the family as “the ashes.”

Human Composting (natural organic reduction, terramation):  The body is shrouded and placed in a vessel with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. The body and bone are then transformed naturally into natural soil. The process takes much longer than water cremation (about two or more months) and the family is left with a sizeable amount of composted soil.

Advocates for these new burial procedures reflect on the negative environmental impact of traditional burials and fire cremation. 

If these options don’t appeal to you, you can always give your body for scientific research. If this is something you are interested in doing there is a documentation process to be considered, so you can’t wait until the last minute. When the research is completed, your body will be fire cremated. 

Does all this make you shudder? Probably. But, don’t leave it to your loved ones to have to make these decisions after you have died. They will need and deserve that time and space to grieve. Don’t make it more difficult for them.

Visit Glendon Geikie in the Wellness Village at, where he has been a member since 2020.

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Updated: August 16, 2017