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Despite the widespread attention garnered by Jessica Mitford’s 1963 exposé of the funeral industry, The American Way of Death, the American way of death still includes average funeral expenses of between $8,000 and $12,000. What’s more, every year conventional burials in the U.S. contribute 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid, containing carcinogenic formaldehyde, and tons of steel, copper, bronze and concrete caskets deposited into the earth.
There is a better way and Fournier, affectionately dubbed the “Green Reaper,” walks readers through it, step-by-step. With green burial and home funeral basics to legal how and what’s; choices in practices (at home, at sea, etc.); and even detours into examples of celebrity green burials; this is comprehensive and compassionate guidance.
The idea of a “good death” has been much discussed. Fournier points the way to good post-deaths, ones that consider the environmental well-being of the planet and the economic well-being of loved ones.
When Elizabeth Fournier was eight, her mother and grandparents died. She spent a lot of time in funeral homes as a kid since her family were frequently found in caskets. Fournier family members didn’t have the best longevity record.
As a young girl, Elizabeth found cemeteries a place of peace and tranquility. As a teen, she’d attend funerals of people she didn’t know. Not surprisingly, she eventually headed into the local funeral home and asked for a job, any job. She landed the position of live-in night keeper, where she resided in a trailer in the far reaches of a large, hilly cemetery. She slept with a shotgun near her bed, experiencing the scariest summer of her life.
In her memoir, Elizabeth Fournier writes about her calling to the funeral industry, and how her early struggles helped shape her life ministry: taking care of the dead and preparing more meaningful burials.
As a one-woman funeral service in the rural town of Boring, Oregon, Mortician Elizabeth Fournier supports old-school burial practices that are kinder to humans and the Earth. She has been called “The Green Reaper” for her passionate advocacy of green burial.
As an undertaker, she is always ready to lend a hand, or a shovel.