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FAQ / What Ifs

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Info @ Heartward Sanctuary dot org


What is natural or green burial?

Natural (or green) burial is when the body is returned to the earth with no embalming chemicals or metal vaults. 

"Green burial is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration
​and/or preservation of habitat." ( See their page for a detailed FAQ on green burial.

Instead of embalming, the body is kept cool between death and burial (dry ice at home or at a funeral home) and buried usually within three days. This body disposition method is one of the most environmentally sustainable options available at this time. Embalming is not a legal requirement in any state. It is a cemetery specific requirement and often pushed on families by funeral homes. 


Why should I consider a green/natural burial?

Green, natural and conservation burial are among the most environmentally-friendly body disposition options. With a lower carbon footprint than fire cremation and conventional burial (embalmed, buried in typical coffins and burial vaults), natural burial offers a way to tend to corpses, give back to the earth and, depending upon the burial ground, can sometimes protect land from development.

Our favorite Mortician and Death Advocate, Caitlin Doughty goes into detail in this VIDEO about eco-death options. We highly recommend her videos and books for further learning about death.


What happens if my family embalms or cremates me? 

Don't let that happen!  Fill out the necessary paperwork to insure your  beloveds know how to fulfill your final wishes.


The organization can not commit to bury you if you're embalmed. 

If you're cremated, your cremains or aquamation remains can be buried here.


Why is there a separate opening/closing cost? Who coordinates this?

The organization will coordinate that service for your family/beloveds. However, because we cannot know the cost of this service in future years, we're going to keep this separate for now. If the organization ends up with the tools necessary to do this, that fee may change or be waived.


What happens when Julia & Jonathan die?

Yes, it's true. The current stewards will die, and possibly before others do. Thus, legal foundations are in the works to make sure that when that happens, even if it were next year, that the land lease will allow for members to maintain access to the land leased to (eventually owned by) the organization. 

Someone is already buried on the land, thus the land has already gained some protection as a cemetery. 

Phase 1-- 2 year lease to Heartward Sanctuary that includes all of the land, including the cemetery

Phase 2--One of the following depending upon the Membership Drive:

*Renew land lease in 2 years

* OR create long-term lease w/ option to buy

* OR, if enough funds have been raised, cemetery acreage will be transferred to ownership of Heartward Sanctuary via a partial release 


A Will and Board of Council will be assembled for ease of continuity after retirement or transition of current founders/stewards. In the case of an unexpected, "premature" death of Julia (like really soon),  members will have the opportunity to take over the lease for the cemetery and barn.  Various contingencies will be laid out in personal wills and organizational structures. 


Why a tiered payment system? How do I know what rate to pay?

Given the economic disparity in our culture, the three tiered system offers greater accessibility to a diverse population. 



  • land/homeowners

  • folks with savings/retirement

  • benefit from intergenerational wealth

  • have a vacation home

  • take more than a week of vacation each year


  • consistent mortgage holders or renters 

  • generally able to afford basic needs

  • have some expendable income

  • access to partner or family support


  • working-class

  • very little expendable income

  • little to no partner or family support


  • difficulty affording basic needs


If I don't choose to be a member, can I be buried there when I die? What will the cost be?



Burial of the dead is a sacred community service, one we take seriously.

We are prioritizing a Membership base for burial first to set the systems in place for long-term care. Once we stabilize our member-base, we'll evaluate how to welcome othersOne benefit of becoming a Founding Member is the ability to access these launching rates as they may increase in the future.

If you've experienced a sudden, unexpected loss, please reach out to see if we can support.


What can I be buried in? A mushroom suit?

Yes. A mushroom suit, shroud or biodegradable coffin made of wood, wicker, cardboard are all acceptable. If you wish for your body to be in direct contact with the earth, that is also welcome. 


Why 88 Founding Members?

Having managed multiple community projects, 88 is a number that Heartward Sanctuary Co-Founder and Director has experience working with and tracking in a more direct and personal way. Thus, this number was a manageable number for the Founding Membership to maintain intimacy, especially in the first years of this project while establishing sustainable systems.

The acreage for burial can definitely accommodate more than 88 Members (families.)


What if you don't get 88 Founding Members?

This project can achieve sustainability and maintain the right for protection in perpetuity without 88 Founding Members. 


If I change my mind or my family doesn't bury me here, do I get a refund?

No. However, you'll retain the satisfaction of having contributed to a meaningful community project and making this service is available for others.

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