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Green Mountain

Funeral Alternatives

At Green Mountain Funeral Alternatives we believe that staying involved in the care of the body after death can be a powerful part of the mourning process. Our services focus on natural deathcare, where the body care occurs at home or in a comfortable setting and is followed by returning the body to the earth.

Filling a Need For Our Community

What Sets Us Apart

About Us

Our goal is for every person to have the funeral service that meets their specific needs. We believe the better prepared you and your loved ones are for the decisions you must make at the end of life and after death, the better we will be able to assist you when you need us. In addition to our one-on-one services, we offer a range of educational workshops that include our unique values-based advance care planning and education about disposition options, with a focus on natural burial and home-based after-death care.

If you need a funeral director, want to make a plan, or are interested in learning more about how to provide natural deathcare for someone you love, we are here for you. We are committed to meeting everyone where they are and working with them to get them where they need to be.

We offer end-of-life planning as well as services at the time of death.
 

When someone dies and the desire is for natural deathcare, you can call us even if there is no plan in place. We will work with you to make a plan for where and how to care for the body, for any ceremony and rituals you would like during bodycare and the funeral, and for designing the final disposition of the body. 

SERVICES

01

Planning

Our “Ending Well” end of life planning model: One on one, family, or small group meetings we use a values-based interview approach to identify your values, discuss your wishes, identify your community to support you, make sure you have the financial resources necessary and write your advance directive, natural deathcare, and or natural burial plan to experience your own good death. Advance Directive: An advance directive is a gift you give to the people you love. Together we will help you figure out who your advocates for dying and disposition should be. Then we will identify your values for living well to create a legally binding document that clearly defines how you want to die. In two or three 1.5 hour meetings we identify your values, discuss your wishes and identify your community to support you, and write your directive. If you have already completed an advance directive without knowing who your support team is or how you will finance it, you do not yet have an effective advance directive. Our comprehensive offering includes opportunities to work with an insurance specialist, financial planner, and estate attorney to make sure you can achieve your wishes. Natural Deathcare and Natural Burial Planning: Many people know they want to be cared for by their loved ones after death and/or want a natural burial, but few have a plan that clearly states what that means and how it will happen. These plans are meant to be included in your advance directive and guide your agent of disposition in making decisions about what happens after you die. We will work together in two or three 1.5 hour meetings to craft a step-by-step by plan from death to burial so that everyone involved knows what to do from beginning to end, even if they are completely unfamiliar with natural deathcare and burial. Clients interested in burial at Vermont Forest Cemetery may opt to receive a tour of the cemetery as part of the process. We can also facilitate a conversation about your wishes with your loved ones, including in-home deathcare workshops with your team. Community Workshops: We also offer education on home-based and natural deathcare for your community.

02

Natural Deathcare Consulting

Consulting services are generally not provided in person. These can entail advice, support, or assistance with resource coordination for natural deathcare, bodycare, funeral service and disposition, or supporting funeral directors assisting natural deathcare families and needing any of the above. Our consulting services include assistance with all required Vermont documentation. If you think you are interested in natural deathcare please reach out as soon as possible, do not wait for death to be imminent! Please see pregnancy loss support for information about pregnancy loss care. Natural Deathcare is when the loved ones of a person care for their body without chemical embalming. Natural deathcare can occur in your home or an alternate setting, or in a funeral home. As a consulting funeral home our goal is for you to feel comfortable and capable with natural deathcare. Natural deathcare includes bathing, dressing, cooling, and shrouding/casketing the body. Optional rituals include anointing or otherwise honoring each part of the body. We can also assist with the necessary paperwork or teach you how to file it yourself.

03

Graveside Services

Personal ceremonies designed to honor the life lived and meet the needs of mourners.

04

Education

We offer small group workshops that explore the history, value and future of natural deathcare, how-to deathcare workshops for family groups and communities, educational programming about natural burial and home funerals as well as advance care planning. Contact us to learn more.

What We Offer

GMFA

Please note that we are a consulting funeral home: we are NOT currently available 24/7 and have very limited opportunities to provide hands on support. We will return your call within the day. If you need immediate assistance, please make arrangements with a local funeral home to keep the body cool. We can assist with arrangements for conventional burial and cremation practices.

 

Green Mountain Funeral Alternatives offers a unique model of funeral service that focuses on natural deathcare. In natural deathcare the body is prepared without embalming for natural burial (at a cemetery or on your own property), natural organic reduction or water cremation (currently not available in Vermont) so that the body can be returned to the earth. Our goal is for everyone to have a funeral experience that both honors their needs as mourners and the life that has ended. 

 

At GMFA we believe that it is important to spend time with the body of someone who has died. Death is a shock, even when it is expected, and one of the tasks of mourning is to form a new relationship with the person who has died. Whether you believe in a soul, spirit, energy, memory or something completely different, being present with the body of someone you love can help integrate the reality that they have died.

 

Most funeral homes take the body away from the place of death to prepare it. At GMFA we encourage you to consider caring for the body at home, with your own hands. Our services for home-based death care included body care training before death, support for body care in the home, ceremony planning, and paperwork. 

 

You do not have to hire a funeral director in Vermont. We are happy to provide you with the information you need to do everything yourself, or only do paperwork on your behalf. 

 

Bodies are kept cool with ice. You will bathe the body, dress it, and wrap it in a shroud or place it in a casket, keeping it cool until it is time for burial or another form of disposition. Caring for the body in this way can be a deeply meaningful act of love, a way to honor and say goodbye to the body that has housed someone we will miss. For most people, it helps to see that the physical body is now an empty shell. This body is then returned to the earth, where it becomes nutrients for the land that sustained it in life. This process is a partnership between the gut biome of the body and the microorganisms of the soil.

Although this may seem unfamiliar, this was the way we cared for our dead for generations before the rise of our current commercial funeral industry in the wake of the American Civil War. Combined with changing family structures and job practices, it can be much easier to hire a funeral director to take care of everything. We are here to walk with you in this journey so that you can see how simple and meaningful it is to tend to the bodies of the dead on your own. 

 

Because natural deathcare is different from conventional funeral practices, we also offer planning sessions, featuring our values-based planning program, “Ending Well,” for individuals, communities, and organizations. The two biggest challenges Vermonters face at the end of life is finding enough support and being able to afford it. With Ending Well, our goal is to craft an advance directive that includes a comprehensive natural deathcare plan covering the personal and financial logistics you will need to be prepared for when death and deathcare occur at home. 

 

At Green Mountain Funeral Alternatives we recognize that death occurs at any age, even during pregnancy. In addition to being the co-author of the adult deathcare guidebook Home Funerals, Michelle Acciavatti is specially trained in pregnancy loss, infant, and child deathcare and is the author of the forthcoming guidebook When Life is Short: Prenatal, Infant, and Child (Pediatric) Deathcare. If you are experiencing pregnancy loss, at any stage, and want a chance to be with and care for the body of your baby, please contact us.

Michelle Hogle Acciavatti

Michelle Hogle Acciavatti (she/her/they), MS, is a natural deathcare worker. She is a fully licensed funeral director, death doula, pregnancy loss guide, end of life specialist and natural burial educator, working with people preparing for the end of life, designing funeral services, caring for their own dead, and exploring natural burial options. She is the founder and head cemeterian of Vermont Forest Cemetery. Michelle is a trained mortician, advance care planner, end of life doula, home funeral guide, birth&bereavement doula, natural burial advocate & educator, writer, neuroscientist, and ethicist. She is a founding member of The Collective for Radical Death Studies and a board member emeritus of the National Home Funeral Alliance where she oversaw the revision of their materials and co-wrote their Home Funeral Guidebook on home funeral care. She has practiced death work with people of all ages, including death during pregnancy. She is author of a forthcoming guidebook on Infant and Child Deathcare. Her work has found her in settings as varied as the forest, Boston Children’s Hospital, people’s own living rooms, as well as the traditional funeral home. She loves being outdoors, ideally in the sun, usually by water, often with a cup of tea, and almost always with a book.

Paul Acciavatti

Paul is an educator, an author, a former wireless systems engineer, and currently the sexton (or cemetery manager) of Vermont Forest Cemetery, and an apprentice funeral director. Paul is coming to deathcare work unexpectedly after participating in home funerals and natural burial ceremonies, and seeing the power and impact they have on the mourner. Paul has a deep and humbling love of this land and by the idea of the generations upon generations who will find solace here.

OUR  TEAM

What to Know When Working with Michelle

The plan we create together will address the who, what, where, why, and how of your natural deathcare wishes.

The planning process is offered on our sliding scale hourly rate of $100-$250 an hour. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
 

Clients who wish to be buried at Vermont Forest Cemetery have the option to receive a tour of the cemetery as part of the process.
 

Michelle is a working funeral director. She may need to reschedule or modify your meeting to a phone call to attend a death, funeral, or burial. If that happens you will be offered an immediate reschedule at a time that works best for you.

We have three goals:

  1. For every Vermonter to have access to natural burial

  2. For every Vermonter to understand the options they have at the end of life and make a plan

  3. For every Vermonter to be able to achieve their plan

APPROACH

At Green Mountain Funeral Alternatives we help families with the practice of natural deathcare- preparing a body for natural burial, natural organic reduction, or water cremation. We encourage people to care for their dead with their own hands, in their own home and provide the education and hands-on support to do so. Staying present with the body can help integrate the reality of the death and lead to healthy mourning.

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in Touch

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