Ruth Milagro Feb 2007 DB

Meet Ruth: our biggest catalyst in an array of reasons why Alan and I will bring Embraced by Earth into reality in Southern Arizona. I first met Ruth 13 years ago while living a couple of doors down from her in co-housing. She wore big colorful flowers behind her ear while hanging her laundry on the line. She wrote books, loved the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert, and founded a women’s group known as the Desert Crones. Nothing about Ruth was timid or disingenuous. When she began a rapid physical decline the winter of 2008, she made clear her wishes for a group of women, including me, to care for her body after her death and then bury her naturally, in the desert. She even bought the shroud cloth ahead of time in which we were to wrap her body. Bright red and bold, of course!

Caring for and then burying Ruth’s body in community was hard work. The kind of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual work that is more rewarding and life affirming than I ever imagined going into it. Therefore, I’ve devoted myself ever since 2008 to helping families care for their own after death and when appropriate, carry out burial at home on their own land.

Today, while I work as a hospice spiritual counselor in Tucson, I see people struggle with choices for their own or their loved one’s final arrangements. Why is it we only see cremation, cost intensive burial or donation to science on the menu of choices in Tucson? Because the simplicity of conservation minded natural burial is rarely even discussed as an option, let alone accessible as a tangible choice.

At Embraced by Earth, we are working to change that.