Field Trip: Natural Cemetery

Ramsey Creek Preserve; Westminster, SC

There is something about being in a space, breathing the air and touching the ground…. A little field trip I took several weeks back was about that—beingI had to get away, I had to be somewhere else for a few hours. I had to walk on different ground and breathe different air. The visit to Ramsey Creek Preserve was in many ways an experiment for me. After a year of standing around in ‘normal,’ or ‘conventional,’ cemeteries, I wanted to see for myself what this natural cemetery felt like.


I wanted to walk the trails and hear the leaves crunch under my feet. I wanted to feel my shoes sink slightly as my feet bogged down in the wet ground. I wanted to let the grass brush up against my legs and to have to duck to avoid small branches on stray tree limbs. Each grave I happened upon along the footpaths made me wonder: How did the people buried here come to find out about this sacred place? What made them decide to go for it? What were they buried in? Was it a handmade wooden casket, a simple shroud or a favorite blanket? What did their families and friends think about it?


My business wheels started turning. What were the selling features of a natural burial? Challenges? Downsides?


I saw the chapel and I hunted graves in the brush. I got a sense of the space and the process of a natural burial, which, in this cemetery, means the graves are dug by hand and bodies are buried in biodegradable containers, unembalmed. I saw the golf carts and casket cart used for transportation and I marveled at the simplicity of graves marked by engraved stones and surrounded by native flora. I imagined small gatherings of friends and relatives singing hymns by the creek.

It was all very different and very, well, natural.

Two Graves

If you have even the faintest curiosity about natural, green, or alternative burials, I highly encourage you to start your own research by checking out the website for this unconventional cemetery, which is one of the few in the nation. If you have questions, I’d be more than happy to answer the ones I can and find out answers for the ones I can’t. And, if you’re really interested, go for a visit yourself. You won’t be disappointed.


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