A Will for the Woods


A Will for the Woods is an information-packed documentary about green burials. This relatively new concept in the US is starting to gain traction throughout the country, and the film explores how the Green Burial Council is working with land trusts and cemetery professionals to develop new ways to honor clients’ requests and preserve natural areas.

But more than that, it’s an intimate and unflinching look at the journey a couple takes in planning for imminent death. Throughout most of the documentary, Clark Wang lives with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He’s a young psychiatrist who seeks aggressive treatment, but during the course of the film it becomes more and more apparent the cancer isn’t responding to the treatments and is spreading with increased vigor. His wife, Jane Ezzard, is a psychiatric nurse, and perhaps because of their medical backgrounds, they both face his death head on and with plain frankness.

Well before it’s evident the radiation and chemotherapy aren’t slowing the spread of the cancer, the couple speak openly and often about what Dr. Wang wants for his burial. They work with a local cemetery to develop a green burial area on the tract of forested land the cemetery owns but hadn’t cleared to expand for conventional burials. By buying his burial plot in the forested section he leaves a living legacy and preserves the area to remain natural and protected.

This film resonated with me personally. Though I’m not facing death in the near term (at least, not that I’m aware of), for a long time I’ve hoped to figure out how my body could be disposed of in an environmentally sound way. It’s reassuring to know the green burial movement is growing, there are options where I live now, and there will likely be more options throughout the US when my death happens. I’m also inspired to research the current options where I live and document my burial wishes so I don’t leave my loved ones guessing.

What have you learned about green burials in your neck of the woods? Please tell us in the comments section below.

A Will for the Woods racked up awards at several film festivals last year and is now available for private screenings. Contact the filmmakers through their website to learn how you can get involved.

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