Frequently Asked Questions
For detailed information about our burial policy read our Rules & Regulations.
What kind of burials will you have at Greenhaven Preserve?
Natural burial (also referred to as “green burial” or “conservation burial”) refers to the end-of-life rituals, disposition options, and products that do not involve the use of toxic chemicals or non-biodegradable materials. In other words, it’s a burial that does not involve embalming with hazardous chemicals, metal caskets and concrete burial vaults. This natural alternative uses less energy and creates less waste than conventional burials.
What does a nature preserve cemetery look like?
This is a place where nature dominates. Instead of a lawn, the land is maintained as a thriving pine forest. Nature trails that meander the landscape will be maintained to provide easy access within the preserve. If Greenhave Preserve looks like a conventional cemetery, we have failed.
How will the cemetery be maintained?
Remember Greenhaven Preserve is a nature preserve, in keeping with this concept there will be very little maintenance to the overall cemetery and individual burial spaces. We will perform ongoing trail and lane maintenance to provide accessibility throughout the preserve.
Can families and friends prepare the site or even dig the grave?
No. Due to the preservation of the natural surroundings of each gravesite, we must prepare and dig all graves. Family and friends are welcome to assist the Greenhaven Preserve staff in the closing of the grave. Those who have closed graves have found it to be a powerful experience and it is well known that taking an active part in the burial process to shorten the grieving process.
Can we bury or scatter cremated remains?
Yes. Greenhaven Preserve will accept cremation remains. We have designated specific areas for the internment of cremated remains. You may also to choose to simply scatter ashes within the preserve, there is a nominal administrative fee associated with this for record keeping.
How are burial plots chosen?
Much like a traditional cemetery you’ll have the opportunity to select your own gravesite based on availability. Greenhaven Preserve offers a variety of different landscapes from along our peaceful lake to our rolling hills and open fields.
May we hold funeral or memorial services at Greenhaven?
Yes. We have a non-denominational chapel onsite with a large gathering room for receiving guests. The use of both facilities is complimentary with burial at Greenhaven Preserve.
Can I plant a tree or flower on my plot?
A native tree or wildflower may be planted on certain sites. Plantings must coincide with our overall restoration goals. Management has an approved species list and can assist in choosing a memorial planting.
What types of grave stones or markers will be permitted?
Grave markers are permitted but optional. You may choose a flat natural fieldstone, quarried stone or other natural material, no more than 400 inches square of surface area and 3 inches thick and indigenous to the South Carolina area. The stone must be flush to the ground. Stones may be engraved but, may not be machined or polished. Please see management for any special religious or military circumstances.
How will families locate gravesites after many years?
South Carolina law requires cemeteries, including Greenhaven Preserve, to keep accurate records of precise burial locations. Each internment site will be mapped with a GPS or GIS device to locate and record the latitude and longitude.
What kind of legacy will burial at Greenhaven Preserve create?
Your decision to choose Greenhaven Preserve and a natural burial will demonstrate your sincere care and respect for our planet. Your final resting place is a living memorial and will support the area wildlife as a protected conservation preserve.
How many burials will there be at Greenhaven Preserve?
Between 100 and 300 burials per acre, depending upon location within the preserve. (Contemporary cemeteries bury 800 to 3,000 people per acre.)
Can this be legal?
Yes. Despite what you may think is law is simply the rules of specific cemeteries or assumptions based on common, modern burial practice. Natural burial is not a new idea and has been the way humanity has cared for the deceased for thousands of years up until the late 19th century.
Won’t wild animals dig up the grave?
Animals digging up gravesites is a myth. Our burials will allow the remains to be undisturbed, but not so deep that the return to nature is delayed.
Without embalming you can’t have an open casket funeral?
Many funeral homes are equipped to prepare bodies for viewing without the use of toxic embalming chemicals. Refrigeration and dry ice are often used to preserve bodies and there are “green” embalming chemicals or natural oils that will produce similar results as modern embalming chemicals. Please discuss these concerns with your funeral director.
Is legal to bury someone without a casket?
Yes. Greenhaven Preserve will allow burial in a favorite blanket or quilt and traditional burial shrouds.
Can’t diseases be spread if no embalming is allowed?
Embalming fluid is a disinfectant, but doesn’t kill all the germs. It even preserves the agents that cause mad cow disease. It's also linked to health risks for embalmers: statistically, they are more likely to die from arteriosclerotic heart disease, leukemia, and colon and prostate cancer. They are also at risk from tuberculosis and perhaps other infections. Most infectious disease agents (including HIV and Ebola) die soon after the person dies unless the body is frozen.
You don’t allow embalming. But isn’t it the law?
No state in the U.S. requires embalming, though some may require it if burial doesn’t take place within a set amount of time - usually 24 or 48 hours.
Note: Where bodies are transported by common carrier - by plane or other means - these three states require embalming: Kansas, Idaho, and Minnesota. Two states, New Jersey and Alaska, require embalming for transporting out of state by any means if the body won’t arrive at its final destination within 24 hours of death. And Alabama requires embalming for any out-of-state transport by any means. Yet dry ice is a routinely accepted alternative to embalming. We accept embalmed bodies for burial where required by such laws and where you are unable to get buy-in for using dry ice - but you must request permission from management.