1. The soil is a solar system. It's a rich, complex realm of living organisms, fungi, mineral products and weathering rocks -- all poised to take action. Soil wants to work. We should let it.
2. Grieving people need to be in nature, able to savour the birdsong, squirrels, even the bugs, grounded, feet in soil, out in the weather, no matter what the weather is.
3. Liturgy, eulogies, poems and blessings are powerful when paced in a sequence as part of a walk to the grave. We can take our time, process the death as we move, carrying the weight of all we've lost.
4. Rosemary is symbolic of remembrance, red roses stand for love, lavender is soothing. You can toss lovely sprigs of almost anything into the grave, and enlist the children to cast them in with you after the casket's dramatic lower. You won't feel as bereft when you depart. You left a piece of yourself.
5. Shovelling the soil back into the grave gives rise to the most transformative magic. The folks who've wordlessly looked on, stoic until then, often find themselves and their emotions as they're shovelling. Get dirt on your shoes and your hands, rend your garments if not by tearing, then by sweating and bending. You're alive, emoting, loving, working, offering yourself to the task of separating. I promise your next meal will taste good.
About Amy Cunningham
Amy Cunningham is the owner of the New York City-based firm Fitting Tribute Funeral Services. She sustains a blog with funeral celebrant Kateyanne Unullisi called "The Inspired Funeral" for anyone working to enrich end-of-life experiences. She has been married to journalist Steven Waldman for twenty-eight years and has two grown sons. You can follow Amy on Twitter and Instagram or connect with her on Facebook.