Tell us about your work, Sarah.
I am a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Austin, TX who works in green burial. My long-term project is called Conservation Burial, which works with state park agencies to establish green burial grounds adjacent to state parks as a way to protect the surrounding area from encroaching development. I’m pretty anti-establishment when it comes to funeral service; I’ve never been fully satisfied working in just a funeral home, nor have I ever been comfortable with the environmental damage of traditional burial. My current focus is on engaging more landowners to participate in this practice, so I do outreach at conservation workshops and events.
What are you working on this year?
Besides conservation burial, I am satisfying my creative tendencies by curating my first art show in Austin in August, called PopUp Mortuary. The idea is to explore the consumerism of the modern funeral industry with other artists and present some of the hidden aspects of the business to the public in an approachable way. I’m really interested in creating spaces for more death conversation. Stay tuned for more info!
What does death positivity mean to you?
Many things, but essentially normalizing the topic of death in everyday conversation.
What other death-related job that you don’t have, would you want?
Director of Education for a mortuary science program. We need complete education reform in this field and I have some ideas!
When you die, what do you want done with your corpse?
Natural burial all the way. Shroud optional.
Sarah has written two series for The Order, American Funeral Home Revolution and an interview series, Real American Death Heroes in which Sarah talks to people making compelling commentary on the death space in America.
She recently addressed What the Texas Fetal Remains Ruling Means and How You Can Take Action for Death & the Maiden and Sarah’s poignant piece At Rest in the Fields – Celebrating Childhood’s End at Eloise Woods for Texas Observer is a must-read.