Cradle to Grave:
Occupational and Environmental Impacts of
Traditional vs. “Green” After-Life Ritual and Burial

Pamela Ortner, RN, MS, CHPN, COHN-S
Quality Outcomes Specialist/Education Coordinator
Angela Hospice Home Care Inc.

pamelaAt the end of life, patients and families rely on nurses and social workers for advice and assistance with the final disposition of their loved one’s body. Increasingly, instead of the common embalming practice and high end caskets, family members are seeking less expensive or more environmentally friendly ways to present and dispose of the body. Pamela’s project investigated after-life processes and rituals including traditional burial and cremation as well as options for “green” coffins. She focused on the environmental implications of each of these methods as well as the environmental and occupational health impacts for the mortuary workers involved with each of them. Her project also provided an avenue through which to discuss the challenges associated with providing consumers with the types of information which will allow them to make informed choices.

Update: Pamela is now a Performance Improvement Leader at St. Joseph Mercy Hospice of Washtenaw County.