The Magic of Carbon and Composting

Recompose, a Seattle area funeral home that offers Natural Organic Reduction (AKA human composting) is now open for business! We have had the honor of placing 12+ people into our vessel system, and over 500 people have joined Precompose (our preplanning option).

A dummy covered in plant material rests on a cradle in front of an open vessel.

Natural Organic Reduction is the process that gently converts human remains into soil. This soil can be used in your garden just like normal compost. Because this process generates a large amount of soil (1 cubic yard/person), we have partnered with Bells Mountain, a 700-acre land trust/conservation area where your persons soil can be donated to. Bells Mountain was mismanaged for centuries, and the soil that is donated helps repair the land and nourish new life in the forest.

One of the beautiful overlooks on Bells Mountain, where soil is donated.

Recompose is where I now act as Services Manager, a job which is a wonderful combination of funeral director, celebrant, tech crew, and set director (we currently live stream all of our ceremonies through Zoom). I have been fortunate enough co-create the client experience with a truly great team of people, and it constantly feels like pure magic is happening at our Greenhouse.

When considering what Recompose could offer to those who wanted to witness their loved one being placed into our vessel system, and have ritual or ceremony surrounding this act (referred to as the Laying-In) I realized that I wanted to create an experience that both paid tribute to the person who had died and recognized the natural cycles that we are all a part of. This concept drove me to develop the Carbon Cycle Ceremony- a ritual and tribute of sorts that is the Recompose equivalent of a funeral.

The Carbon Cycle Ceremony resonated on a level that is deeper than I had ever expected, for me and with the clients who experience it with me. The beauty and wonder of the work we do unfolds more and more every day.

Carbon is a fascinating molecule. It is the building block of life, and in fact it is the very backbone of our DNA. While the Carbon Cycle is vastly more intricate, NOAA surmises its essence beautifully: “The carbon cycle is nature’s way of reusing carbon atoms, which travel from the atmosphere into organisms in the Earth and then back into the atmosphere over and over again.”

This is a closed system on Earth, so the amount of carbon never changes. This means that we are directly a part of a cycle that has been carrying on since Earth’s formation.

Imagine where all of your carbon molecules have been before, and will go in the future?

In remembering that we are a part of these cycles, we remember how deeply connected to the Earth we are. We can look at life and death as cycles that are as natural as, and actually important to, the Carbon Cycle. When we frame death like this, we can appreciate a duality: The immense heartache that is innate to the death of our loved ones and ourselves, but the immense beauty in knowing that we release our molecules back into the environment, to return to life in a different way. We live on through the trees, birds, deer, and soil of this planet.

“I died as mineral and became a plant,

I died as plant and rose to animal,

I died as animal and I was human,

Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?"


You can learn more about the Laying-In process and the Carbon Cycle Ceremony here.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All