What to expect at a burial?
Having now had five beautifully individual burials at Penlow Field (at the time of writing this - May 2015) - it occured to me that for the majority of people who have attended, it was their first natural burial experience.
So I thought that I ought to add a new page to the website with further information!
Each burial is very different and individually tailored to the requirements of the family or the deceased's wishes. After a family decide upon Atlantic Rest as a final resting place, a date can be set for the interment, this is done between the family, Atlantic Rest, the Funeral Director and service conductor if one is being used.
Sometimes families have a service before hand maybe a few days before or even just before the burial. This can be religious or non-religious. Alternatively some families just would like to have a small grave side family led service and this is exactly what they do.
So......people who are attending the burial arrive in the usual manner as you would at a church before the family do. We get everyone parked up either in the car park or in the overflow area of the field. Attendees congregate in the car park area and wait for the family and the hearse (or whichever vehicle is chosen to transport the body).
At present there are two areas in which the burial can take place. The first is near the top of the field next to the carpark in what will become the 'Wildflower Area' or at the bottom of the field near the woodland. Everyone then proceeds to the graveside.
At this point the coffin/shroud will be set down over the grave. We use a decked surround to go around the outside of the grave. This also doubles up as a safety feature: a) giving the bearers a solid base to stand on when lowering the coffin and b) to cover the grave after it has been dug prior to burial. Please see photo below:
Now the service can begin. Each burial as I said is very individual, we have had various different approaches so far and I am sure that there are many more to come. We have mainly had family led services which are so personal, we have also had a Methodist Lay Preacher take a service here so far. Celebrants, Humanists, Vicars or Priests - anyone is welcome to carry out a graveside service. Some families choose to tell the story of the life of the loved one, some bring along music to play - we have even had bag-pipes, some read poetry, some bring whisky (insert favourite drink of loved one here) and all have a toast. Some choose to bring flowers and each person can lay one on top of the coffin. One family kissed the coffin before it was lowered - that was truly beautiful.
It is really down to the imagination of the family - as long as it is legal and practical then it can be done!
Once the coffin has been lowered and the service has finished, people are welcome to stay as long as they like at the site or of course go off to any 'wake' arrangements that have been made. Children are welcome and have attended burials at Atlantic Rest, they have been able to play quietly in the long grass following the burial and have provided some lovely photos on what can be such a sad occasion.
After everyone has left the site, we back fill the grave by hand. If the family wish to do this then they are welcome too but prior arrangements do need to be made.
I hope that this gives you a little insight into what to expect when attending a natural burial at Atlantic Rest.