We are lucky in Hampshire. We have access to several natural burial grounds. The one that I use most frequently is at East Meon. It is set on the chalk downlands above the market town of Petersfield and there are views away towards Chichester and to the sea at Portsmouth on a clear day.
To conduct a burial here is an unhurried and peaceful affair. There is a covered space with an open fireplace and a degree of shelter for use to honour the dead. The staff are professional yet discreet and unlike at the Crematoria there is no sense of a production line and the need to speed through the farewell.
Once the goodbyes have been said and the memories shared the bereaved are able to make their way slowly through the woodland to the burial plot. The deceased is transported on a hand cart and they are laid to rest in a hand dug grave.
Families are encouraged to walk their dogs and visit their loved ones privately – there are no grave stones and so in a relatively short time the body is reabsorbed into the circle of life and death; remembered by those who mourn on a personal level but making the minimum impact on the countryside.
I like to mark my involvement with a family by placing a posy of flowers from my garden on the coffin. This is tricky in January and especially when the only flowers that can be used are indigenous ones. This wreath was up-cycled from my Christmas hazel wreath base, with teasels, catkins, ivy, oats and rosemary all hand tied with cotton string.