When Jake Seniuk of Washington state died of cancer, his wishes were clear: He wanted a simple, natural burial in keeping with the way he lived his life. His family not only complied but worked with Seniuk to plan the particulars before he died, writes Katie Herzog at Grist. But as the story explains, the logistics of such a no-frills burial aren't exactly simple. Among the challenges handled by Seniuk's partner and grown kids: Finding a cemetery willing to accommodate such "green" burials (no easy feat in an industry dominated by a giant company called Service Corporation International), cleaning the body, filing a death certificate with the medical examiner, transporting the body to the cemetery, and ... having plenty of dry ice on hand throughout.
In telling the story, Herzog notes that about half of Americans opt for a conventional burial, in which the body is drained of blood and shot through with chemicals. Seniuk wanted no part of that. Nor did he want to contribute to the funeral industry's huge expenditure of wood, steel, concrete, or to the tons of carbon dioxide pumped into the air via cremation. So a green burial it was. As for that dry ice, it became crucial when Seniuk died on a Friday—the cemetery he would be buried in is closed on weekends. Family and friends sat vigil with him at home for three days. "It wasn't morbid," writes Herzog after talking with Seniuk's son. "It was actually kind of beautiful." Click for the full story. (Read more burial stories.)