Russ Burns, Director of All Saints Cemetery and The Preserve at All Saints in Waterford, Mich., started working in the cemetery business as a part-time college job. Now as the director, he reflects on taking care of families who are facing one of the most difficult times in their lives - the passing and burial of a loved one. "I love what I do. I can't imagine doing anything else."

All Saints Cemetery, a part of The Mt. Elliott Cemetery Association, has been taking care of families since 1979. The total acreage of All Saints is roughly 80 acres. 

Adjacent to the manicured plots with the granite headstones sits beautiful rows of Arborvitae that frame in tranquil meadows with a large, central oak tree. It is here where the cemetery has provided families with the choice of a 'green’ or natural burial. This area is called The Preserve at All Saints, and it is a completely green burial cemetery.

Green burial is gaining in popularity with many families both in Michigan and around the United States. The biggest difference is that it does not use toxic formaldehyde-based embalming, metal caskets or concrete burial liners or vaults. Green burial is actually the way many cultures care for its dead outside of North American and Europe, and it is how the U.S. cared for its dead until the late 19th century. In some instances, green burial can also be used to provide ecological land restoration and conservation.

The Preserve at All Saints offers families the choice to have their loved ones buried in whole body form or as cremated remains. 

On a recent Saturday (the day before Father's Day), we had the opportunity to film with members of the Torgerson family, which had recently lost their father. As the ceremony concluded, the family wished their Norwegian father "Torgy" a final farewell. They shared in some of his favorite treats and traditions, from coffee to toasting with Linie Aquavit, a distilled liquor from Norway.

The moment was filled with laughter and reflection, as well as tears of grief for a man they dearly loved.

Torgy’s daughter Sheryl was asked why the family chose this location. As the gentle breeze blew over the open meadow and toward The Preserve’s signature oak tree off in the distance, Sheryl said, as tears rolled down her cheeks, "this would be exactly what he wanted."

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, going back to nature.

We are thrilled to have a feature on The Preserve in our film TEOD and we want to thank the Torgerson Family for sharing their farewell and their emotional burial of Torgi with us.