Natural burial company offers alternatives, peace of mind for loved ones

Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Cremation rates skyrocket as many people choose more unique memorial services over traditional burials. Since the 1950′s, the number of Americans who choose cremation has risen by more than 1200%.

“It’s a little bit more, I guess flexible, as far as you know, decisions on how to celebrate someone’s life,” said Katie Sullivan, Director of Operations for the Cremation Society of Illinois.

Better Place Forests operates 10 locations around the country, with one based on the Rock River near Oregon. The company offers unique, tranquil areas to bury loved ones, which it argues, continues the cycle of life.

It is just one of many companies attempting to lessen the stress of burials, by offering what it calls natural alternatives to cemeteries.

“We do the ash mixture down here next to the river and then during the memorial we walk up to the person’s tree and spread the ashes at the base,” said General Manager of the Rock River location, Jimmy Westenberg.

Westenberg says the founder of the forest, Sandy Gibson, came up with the idea after visiting his mother’s gravesite.

“He heard two buses go by on the highway and thought, there needs to be a better place, a place where somebody can come out and not have such a terrible time honoring their loved ones.”

The company works with soil scientists to analyze their mixture and make sure it doesn’t harm the tree in any way, and wants to provide a peaceful experience during times of great family tragedy.

Better Place Forests will host an open house this weekend, you can find more information about that here.

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