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How it works.

You can hire a funeral director to handle all the details, and there are several–from different areas of the state–who have worked with us. However, burial at Vermont Forest Cemetery is often more meaningful when family and loved ones are able to participate, rather than merely observing.

Vermont Forest Cemetery staff will prepare the grave. Family and/or loved ones are encouraged to help open the grave and take care of pall-bearing, lowering, and beginning to fill in the grave themselves, with our support.  And staff can complete closing the grave if you do not. 


In answer to what is probably the most common question: yes, burial rights can—and, if possible, should—be purchased in advance.

We strongly encourage people to make several visits and come into relationship with the Cemetery to decide on the area in which they wish to be buried. When death is imminent, you or your loved one will have the opportunity to select a specific site. 

The process

Natural burial is something that is best planned for. Start by having conversations with loved ones about this choice so that they know what to expect and do when the time comes. We highly recommend completing an advance directive and including your natural burial wishes. 

Following is a general outline of what will happen up to the time of interment:

  1. If the death was expected, the family and loved ones need do nothing at first but to take some time to breathe and be with the enormity of this moment. This is the right of everyone who has suffered a loss.

  2. Have the death certified. This happens automatically in a hospital; if death occurs at home, call the hospice provider (if the person was on hospice) or local police non-emergency line (if not). 

  3. Notify Vermont Forest Cemetery. We need at least 48 hours notice in the summer and prefer 72 hours notice in the winter.

  4. Complete the Preliminary Record of Death -- if you are working with a funeral director, this will be done for you. If the family does not already have a contract with a funeral home, Vermont Forest Cemetery has a sister business, Green Mountain Funeral Alternatives, which can assist. 

  5. Obtain a Burial Transit Permit and Death Certificate from the Town Clerk. A funeral director can do this or Green Mountain Funeral Alternatives can assist. 

  6. The body may be kept at home or may be transported to a funeral home. It should not be embalmed, just bathed and kept cool: as close to 45° as is practical. 

  7. If a burial plot has not already been selected, loved ones come to the cemetery to pick a specific location.

  8. If there is not already a burial container, obtain a casket, coffin, or shroud of natural, biodegradable material.

  9. Dress, and if desired shroud the body and/or place it in a casket. Hair and makeup can be done as they normally would be. 

  10. The family will arrange for transportation of the body. Vermont Forest Cemetery does not offer transportation services, but if you are not already working with a funeral director, GMFA can assist.

  11. The body is transported by vehicle to the Cemetery, and carried by hand to the gravesite. We suggest 4 to 6 pallbearers. VFC can assist, with advance notice.

  12. If desired, there is a graveside service. Our interfaith minister can preside, but the family must arrange for this in advance.

  13. Loved ones lower the body into the grave. VFC can assist, with advance notice.

  14. Loved ones fill in the grave. VFC can assist, with advance notice.

Bodies prepared for burial at Vermont Forest Cemetery should not be embalmed, even with “natural embalming fluid” unless there is a need for restoration because of trauma to the body. 

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