I was serving my apprenticeship in a small, dusty West Texas town when I began to fall in love with the idea of Natural Burial. As the only female at the firm, I was often stuck behind the desk, forcefully playing the role of secretary, while my male counterparts were given the tasks I should have been learning on the job, like meeting with families to make funeral arrangements and embalming my required cases to obtain licensure. (I would end up obtaining these cases as a volunteer for the local big city mortuary service in my off time.) In between answering the phones, and performing menial tasks assigned to me by the FDIC (First Dick in charge, but truly Funeral Director in charge), I began to research this new old way of caring for the deceased, and eagerly followed the members of The Order of the Good Death, and other online avenues, educating myself on topics that were never broached in Mortuary School, like home funerals, and green burials.
I first saw a Natural Burial portrayed not once, but twice, on the hit HBO television series Six Feet Under. I was attending what I fondly refer to as Mortuary School 1.0 at the time, which was owned by an embalming chemical supplier, and wondering… “Why isn’t this an option for families?” After following The Order for many months, a simple internet search one day would reveal to me that Texas finally had it’s first Natural Burial Park… just outside of Austin, Texas. To a girl stuck behind a desk in po-dunk Texas, it seemed a world away. 3 years later, one beautiful spring Sunday morning, I found myself finally at the entrance of Eloise Woods.
The gate seemed to be locked, but just inside was a board with information on the burial park. I timidly climbed the fence, and approached it, immediately finding a number to call. Before my anxiety could get the best of me… I dialed.