We understand you may have lots of questions, especially of the idea of a Green “Natural” Burial is new to you.  We hope this page is able to answer some of your questions.  You can read them all on one list, or you can select a single category and see just the FAQs in that group.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

Do Unembalmed Bodies Pollute the Ground?2018-08-15T18:18:04-05:00

Unembalmed bodies do not pollute the ground. They decompose naturally and become an integral part of the Circle of Life. There are not enough artificial chemicals in a human body to pollute the soil.  The soil is a natural filter, preventing any chemicals from getting into the groundwater or underlying soil.  We lose more toxic chemicals naturally from our bodies during our daily living than the whole body does will while decomposing.

Why is having a place to visit so important?2017-03-16T21:03:00-05:00

All of the senses are incorporated into our memories, which is why we find memories triggered so easily by sounds and smells. Having a place to go that holds the memory of loved ones coming together in ceremony is a natural human need. The conservation scattering grounds at Countryside Memorial Park provides a place that will be preserved indefinitely for this purpose, so that generations later, family can experience the legacy left by the departed.

Is participation by the family allowed?2017-03-16T21:02:27-05:00

Families and loved ones are allowed and encouraged to participate in the closing of the grave should they choose.  If families and loved ones choose to close the grave either in part or completely, a cemetery staff member familiar with the process and techniques will be present as a facilitator.

What is a funeral service?2017-03-16T21:01:37-05:00

Cemeteries provide burial services.  Funeral services are commonly held prior to the burial or final interment including cremation.  Cemeteries work with funeral service providers and with families performing home funerals.  Loved ones attending burial services are welcome to create graveside ceremonies personally meaningful to the family.

What is a funeral home?2017-03-16T21:00:59-05:00

Home funerals allow families to care for a deceased loved one in the familiarity of their own home.  After-death care in the home was the norm until the early part of the 20th century.  A family can manage a home funeral themselves, or in conjunction with a licensed funeral director. HLPC is happy to work directly with families desiring a green burial following a home funeral.  For more on home funerals take a look through the pages at the National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA) website.

Is embalming required by law?2017-03-16T20:55:46-05:00

No.  Only under rare and extraordinary circumstances is embalming required.  Outside of a very few countries (including the US) it is not done in most of the rest of the world and some European countries forbid it by law.

In Texas, the law does not require embalming. But most carriers will require a body to be embalmed prior to shipping.   Because of the rapid deterioration of a body after death, Texas law requires that bodies held for over 24 hours, or in transit, must be embalmed, refrigerated, or encased in a leak and odor proof container.

Embalming has become more of a custom rather than a necessity and the major objection to it is the fact it traditionally uses formaldehyde which the World Health Organization has declared a known carcinogen although the rise of public interest in “Green Burials” has caused some chemical companies who produce embalming fluid to create a more environmental friendly version  which contains no formaldehyde and is non-toxic.

Do you need a Funeral Director in Texas?2017-03-16T20:55:05-05:00

In all states, including Texas, it is legal to have your loved one’s body at home after they die. Texas does not require you to involve a licensed funeral director in making or carrying out final arrangements.

However, Texas regulations require anyone who assumes custody of a body to file a “Report of Death” form with the local registrar of vital statistics within 24 hours of taking custody of the body.


Is embalming required for a public viewing?2017-03-16T20:54:08-05:00

No. Once again, refrigeration is easily accomplished to keep the body stable within the time frame allowed by law.

Are “Vaults” or “Grave liners” required by law?2017-03-16T20:53:36-05:00

No.  Outside burial containers are not required by law in any state.  Regulations requiring the use of them are set by individual Cemeteries, not the government. Cemeteries certified by the “Green Burial Council” permit burials only without outside containers.

Are caskets required by law?2017-03-16T20:52:47-05:00

No. Caskets are not required by law in any state. A simple burial shroud is allowable if one wishes. Once again, individual Cemeteries set the regulations in these matters.

How do I Get a Death Certificate?2017-03-16T20:51:59-05:00

Texas law requires you to file the death certificate with the local registrar within ten days after the death and before final disposition. (Texas Health & Safety Code § 193.003.)

The deceased person’s doctor, the medical examiner, or a justice of the peace must supply the date, time, and cause of death within five days after receiving the death certificate.

You will need certified copies of the death certificate to carry out certain tasks after the death, such as arranging for the disposition of the body and transferring the deceased person’s property to inheritors.

Do I need a Permit to Transport the Body?2017-03-16T20:51:26-05:00

Unless you are crossing state lines, in Texas, a copy of the Report of Death (described above) serves as a permit to transport and bury the body within the state. (25 Texas Administrative Code § 181.2.)

Do I legally need a funeral director to carry out my funeral?2017-03-16T20:50:51-05:00

No. Texas has no law requiring that a licensed funeral director be involved in making or carrying out final arrangements.

Who do we need to contact immediately after our loved dies?2017-03-16T20:50:23-05:00

The answer depends on the circumstance under which a person has died.

If the death was unexpected then you will need to contact the police, as the coroner may need to be involved.  If the person dies at home without hospice care, call 911, and have in hand a do-not-resuscitate document if it exists.  Without one, paramedics will generally start emergency procedures and, except where permitted to pronounce death, take the person to an emergency room for a doctor to make the declaration.

If this was an expected death, for example the person has died in the home under hospice care or in a nursing home, then usually there is no one to immediately contact, other than family and friends and customarily a funeral home you are partnering with.

What is a Green Burial?2023-09-08T23:39:49-05:00

Green burial is the simple act of returning a deceased body to the earth in its most natural state – without toxic embalming chemicals or a concrete vault. The body may be wrapped in a special shroud, or if a casket is used at all, it is made of biodegradable materials, such as bamboo or wicker.  A green burial allows the body to decompose quickly, in a natural manner, without negative impacts on the environment.  READ MORE

What Counts as “Natural”?2017-03-16T20:37:04-05:00

A natural burial is the act of returning a body as naturally as possible to the earth. To achieve this, we recommend that the body not be embalmed or cremated, but instead buried in a simple casket or shroud, in a protected green space.  Making the choice for natural burial means you are choosing a low impact burial.  It is a choice that reduces energy and resource consumption, and one that is less toxic.  In addition it ensures the land cannot be used for any other purpose therefore protecting these wild spaces from becoming a subdivision or quarry.

What Does it Cost?2017-03-16T20:32:02-05:00

A natural burial is usually less expensive option than a conventional burial.  What makes a natural burial different from a financial perspective is that the costs are better allocated, with money carrying on the legacy of the deceased by protecting green space instead of the mark-up on expensive, unnecessary materials and procedures.  READ MORE

Are There Headstones?2017-03-16T20:32:27-05:00

This is different from cemetery to cemetery.  Many families choose not to have any marker at all, but some prefer a marker, to memorialize the deceased.  However, our memorial park grounds allow engraved flat stone markers, or engraved granite marker.  Shrubs and wildflowers can also be used on graves but must be appropriate for the location and approved before planting.  READ MORE

Won’t Animals Disturb the Gravesite?2017-03-16T20:43:33-05:00

No.  Burial is one of the oldest technologies.  Animals simply do not dig into graves.  This is one of those “old-wives-tale” myths popular in scary stories.

Does a nature preserve cemetery hurt water quality?2017-03-16T20:47:12-05:00

No. Natural land actually produces cleaner water than urban, suburban, or agricultural areas.

How is the Body Prepared?2017-03-16T20:47:04-05:00

For a natural burial a body is prepared without the use of embalming chemicals or disinfectants.  Washing with soap, essential oils and warm water, and keeping the body cool is adequate preparation.  If clothing is desired, selecting items of cotton and/or other natural products is encouraged.  The body may be buried in a biodegradable coffin, casket, or shroud (fabric) of natural fibers, such as linen, silk and cotton.

What type burial containers can be used?2017-03-16T20:59:40-05:00

Burial containers must be 100% biodegradable and non- toxic.  Shrouds and certified green caskets are acceptable.  All burial shrouds must be made of natural plant or animal fibers.  We also allow silk and linen options.  Caskets must be constructed from wood, grasses, reeds, bamboo, or natural materials.  Metal caskets, fasteners, synthetic linings, formaldehyde glues, & high VOC finishes are prohibited.  Outer burial containers, such as concrete liners, metal vaults, partitions and slabs are not allowed.


Can I still be embalmed?2017-03-16T20:46:57-05:00

Because embalming significantly retards the natural process of decomposition and because it introduces a variety of toxic chemicals into the cemetery, embalming is not compatible with a natural cemetery.

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