Conscious Dying

“Conscious dying” is a term used to describe the process of preparing for a peaceful transition. It acknowledges that each of us is going to die and that contemplating what a “good death” means can help us prepare to leave this life with a sense of acceptance, completion, and peace of mind.

Though there is more benefit in beginning this practice and preparation early in adult life, often it is done after receiving a terminal diagnosis.

The path of conscious dying is unique for everyone, but there are common elements in each person’s journey:

  • Pre-planning: completing Advance Directives
  • Making informed choices: Life Support/Death Support
  • Releasing attachments & Healing relationships
  • Understanding the physical and emotional stages of dying
  • Sitting vigil with the dying
  • Religious/spiritual rituals at the time of death
  • Planning music and sacred singing at the deathbed
  • Choosing options for after-death care, funerals, and final disposition

The work of conscious dying may call for the skills of a clergy person, therapist, death midwife, or the generous listening skills of a compassionate family member of friend.  Assistance in identifying and working with difficult emotions such as fear, shame, or other unresolved issues can lift the burdens from the heart, mind, and spirit of the dying person and contribute to a more graceful, peaceful passage.




National Home Funeral Alliance Conference — Sept 22-24, 2017

Join us on September 22 – 24 for the 2017 National Home Funeral Alliance Conference at Pearlstone Center in Reisterstown, Maryland (30 minutes from Baltimore.) We will be presenting a workshop on How to Start a Threshold Care Group in addition to organizing an altar project, a Before I Die Wall, and leading music and home funeral stories around a bonfire! We hope to see you there!

For all the details and to register for this amazing 2 day event with speakers, presenters, authors, and filmmakers from around the world click on this link: 2017 National Home Funeral Alliance Conference

Watch the Trailer for “In The Parlor: The Final Goodbye”

Watch the trailer of this beautiful video of families in search of a more personal and fulfilling way to say goodbye and reclaim a healthy relationship with dying. This inquiry into home death care supports those wanting to take an active role in caring for relatives who have died.

For more information about In The Parlor: The Final Goodbye click here




Frequently Asked Questions About Green Burial

Have questions about green burial? Thanks to our friends at the Green Burial Association of Maryland (GBAM), we have some answers and steps you can take to support green burial!

What About Funeral Homes?

Part of the mission of the Green Burial Association of Maryland is to engage and educate funeral homes in Maryland about green burial as an option. Our goal is to reach out so funeral homes and cemeteries will be better informed and situated to offer green choices to interested Marylanders.

What If A Loved One Has Asked For a Green Burial?

Be sure the funeral director or home funeral guide understands that the body should not be embalmed, but rather preserved using other methods such as dry ice. The body will should also be placed in a non-toxic or biodegradable shroud or casket.

How Much Does A Green Burial Cost?

Funeral home and cemetery costs for a green burial, as for a traditional burial, are established by each funeral home and cemetery.

What are the Effects of Green Burial on the Earth?

Soil and medical science suggest that a body buried using green methods does not contaminate soil or water supplies as long as sound burial practices are followed. Green cemeteries will not contribute lawn-maintenance fertilizer or pesticide run-off to streams and the Bay. In a green burial the body returns to earth, adding nutrients to the soil and completing the natural cycle of life. For a comparison of the effects of Green and Traditional burial on the earth, please refer to Green Burial Council factsheet.

What About Cremation?

While cremation remains take up smaller space, each cremation uses the fossil fuel equivalent of a 4,800 mile car trip; crematory ovens are heated to 1,400-2,100 degrees for two to three hours. Cremations release greenhouse gases such as Co2 and sulphur dioxide, as well as mercury into the atmosphere. For these reasons, cremation is not in keeping with the desire to minimize our final impact on the environment.

What Steps Can I Take To Support Green Burial In Maryland?

– Call cemeteries and funeral directors and ask if they have a green burial option
– Public advocacy: Show up at meetings and legislative hearings where green burial is being considered.
– Make your wishes known to family members
– Pre-plan your funeral and burial options
– Become a member by joining the Green Burial Association of Maryland (GBAM) on our Contact page