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North America: The Day of The Dead

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The view on death in North America has always been negative, but with recent discoveries, there are new rituals that can help bring ease along with celebration to these pessimistic views of death. Natural burials provide a new way to look at death that can help change these dark views seen across North America.

According to the Toronto Star, many Canadians have been thinking about their post-death plans in more detail. For the last couple of years, it has been the norm in most western societies to have a funeral when a loved one has passed away. However, a new ritual has been presented that offers a more peaceful way along with a sustainable offering when dealing with death. A ‘Natural burial’ has begun to spread across Canada and the United States. What this entails is a ceremony where the body of the deceased is wrapped in shrouds (a cloth) and placed in a biodegradable coffin. What this does is help the environment around the burial site to be able to grow trees and plants to preserve the natural surroundings of the area. This new ritual can help bring light into what was originally thought of as a dreadful event.

Funerals were always seen as a sad and depressing event and attached the stigma that death is horrible. ” People don’t find the same value they once did in getting all dressed up in black and getting lectured for an hour” Trevor Crean was interviewed by Saba about the topic of natural burials. He was introduced to the concept of natural burial and decided to incorporate this into his community. Crean wants to create a community that is not fearful of cemetery’s and to change the negative stigma that has been attached to death for the last couple of years. Regular funerals are very harmful to the surrounding environment. With hundreds of coffins filled with deceased bodies lying under the ground, plant life is not able to survive along with the hundreds of gravestones standing above graves stopping plant growth within that area. Within today’s society, our environment has become an important factor to maintain human life. If all these burials with nondegradable coffins and large gravestones were to continue, there will be little life that can survive in the surrounding area. This aspect has changed many people’s views on having a funeral, which then made people see what a natural beauty death can bring.

Natural burials can further change the negative views on death that many Canadian seem to have. The idea of helping Earth even after death can help bring purpose or an ease to death. It is a kind of way to celebrate the life that has been lived and bring peace along with freedom to those who have died. Louise Bell is a woman who helps bring natural burials into her community as a way to bring friends and neighbors closer to the idea of death ‘The philosophy is that the land will return to its natural state’. Bell wants to help families have a better understanding of death, in addition to what it means to have a natural burial. She wants to show that there are better ways not only to help your environment but help cope with the death of a family member. With a natural burial, death will leave a more beautiful mark than any gravestone could. It provides new homes for animals and many species of plants. It can help bring back sustainability within a community and brings more peace to many people than the current negative idea of death. This has led many people, including Bell and Crean, to have a more comfortable relationship with death. Having nature become a part of someone’s death brings a natural aspect to dying.

Celebrations have never really been an aspect of death in most western societies. It is seen as an event that nobody wants to attend as it means death has yet taken another person away. But in other societies, death is, in fact, a celebration. Take, for example, The Day of the dead celebrated among many Mexicans. This celebration occurs in November every year; it is where families all over Mexico come together and celebrate the death of their ancestors. They will bring offerings to their ancestors’ graves and have a feast with their families to celebrate this occasion. In this culture, death is seen as a rather happy and positive event. People are grateful to tell stories to the younger generation of the family to help keep the deceased memory and spirit alive. It is said in this culture that when speaking of an ancestor’s death, you help keep their spirit alive during this occasion. This event can be seen as very bizarre to most western people when they hear that death is celebrated. However, their view of death helps bring people closer to the idea of their death. These people know, that even though at some point they will no longer live on this earth amongst their family, they are still celebrated and being recognized by their family, which is something to be positive about. The connection between a natural burial and the day of the dead is that both concepts change a negative view on death into a positive one. Each of these rituals helps celebrate the purpose of death by creating a beautiful and meaningful celebration that brings family and friends together to remember the past. In the case of a natural burial, it is nature that surrounds everyone that can help them remember their loved ones’ lives. Families will know that their loved ones will always be with them when nature is around them. Like the day of the dead celebration where family and friends tell stories to help keep their ancestors’ spirit alive, people who partake in a natural burial can have the same connection when seeing a tree or flower in nature.

Natural burials can help bring a positive view of death, but there are some adjustments that have to be made in order for people to accept this new kind of ritual. Natural burials are meant to help preserve our natural environment, this means that you will not have a stone or a particular site to mourn your loved one. These kinds of adjustments are hard for people to make and will interfere with their view of death. This can cause tension amongst people as they are used to the old way; a funeral with a gravestone and a cemetery. Stewart discusses this tension by asking the question ‘Can human memorialize in the wild?’. Gravestones serve as a symbol of death that allows people to mourn over their loved ones. What natural burials offer instead of a piece of stone are trees or flowers that can continue to grow as well as create new plants and green life that represent the deceased life being spread across the land, becoming one with nature. With this, people can respect the beauty of nature around them. When people see trees and flowers, they can remember their loved ones as they are now too a part of the natural world. This allows for a new place to memorialize. Their loved ones are in a more beautiful and meaningful environment representing a new acceptance of death. A new natural environment, for more things to grow. ” The idea is that you’re apart of nature and you want to observe without interfering with it.’. As demonstrated in this quote, the concept of a natural burial is to show that death is not all negative, death is a natural event and is a part of nature.

Rituals of death have always been seen as a dreadful occasion that nobody wants to be a part of. That Death is natural and meaningful is a concept that Canadians and Americans across North America struggle with. Natural burial can help with this understanding. It has allowed for a new view on what death is: death is inevitable but there are many ways to help cope with death or be more at ease with death which is what a natural burial can show. Being able to see that death can bring new life, and help save other lives is an amazing discovery that everyone should think about, and it might change their views on death.

In conclusion, how North America views death can change when being given the opportunity of using new rituals such as natural burial, to provide a new positive outlook on the natural event that is death.

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North America: The Day Of The Dead. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from
“North America: The Day Of The Dead.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022,
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North America: The Day Of The Dead [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 29 [cited 2022 May 22]. Available from:
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