Dear Friends,
I'm writing with the rather astonishing news that for the first time in years, whole body burials - many of them natural burials - exceeded the number of cremations at River View Cemetery. Cremation rates across the country continue to climb (now topping 50% nationwide). But here at River View, with such strong interest in our natural burial program, 2017 saw our whole body burials increase by 12.4%, constituting the majority of interments for the first time in decades.
Natural burial - interment without embalming, without a concrete vault or liner, using either a shroud or a simple biodegradable casket - accounted for 30% of our whole body burials last year (see graph).
Even more exciting, our Board of Trustees has just green-lighted a master planning process that will plat out our new green-above-the-ground dedicated natural burial area. For those of you who've been following closely, you know that in 2010 we began offering natural burial anywhere in the cemetery, even in an existing family plot. At that time we also announced long-term plans for a dedicated, sustainably-managed natural burial area, and eventually burial in our undeveloped forested acres.
That vision ran into technical problems inherent in our steep hillside location. Those are now resolved, after several years of intensive work with environmental engineers and the city bureaus that oversee environmental protection. Once our master planning is complete later this year, we'll be able to announce an opening date for the new woodland meadow section envisioned in our community input sessions.
The impact a natural burial can have on a family is evident to us every day here at River View. Read one family's moving story, below, about caring for their young adult son after an accidental death.
And please join us to consider a range of eco-friendly and family-involved practices at our annual community education session (see sidebar) - this year introducing "Aqua Green Cremation".
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have. I can be reached at  503-246-4251  or [email protected] .
Best regards,


David Noble
Executive Director
Ben Carruth's Burial: "I wanted to care for him completely"
In the late spring of 2016, Deb and George Carruth buried their beloved son Benjamin at River View Cemetery. He died suddenly, in an accident, just 32 years old. His grave is marked by a stunning limestone monument carved by Ben, a stonecarver like his father. Deb has agreed to share their story to help other families understand what's possible, even in the worst of circumstances. Read the full story.
"For us, the decision to emphatically not allow embalming was simple. But our plan was to cremate.... A conversation [with a mother who'd buried her son, at Ben's visitation] changed everything. I realized fully that not only did I need Ben to be near us, but I wanted to care for him completely. Where was the question, as our one requirement was a cemetery that allowed limestone monuments, as we intended to place one of Ben's stone carvings as his headstone.... It is an incredible blessing to us that River View allowed the use of Ben's stone, and that we were able to place him at the top of a rise under a sycamore tree, a favorite of ours....
"Friends from Ohio and Portland carried our Ben to his grave and then proceeded to cover him with soil. I remember just sitting on a bale of straw opposite those young men, absorbing the moments as shovels traded hands and in silence our son was cared for and buried.... Even the grass was laid back in place by those who knew and loved our son, my husband George and I laying the last piece together.
"The stone Ben carved has been set upon a black granite base. We visit each week, bringing fresh flowers, sunflowers when possible. We have purchased graves for ourselves next to our son and for our daughters a few feet away. I know now where I shall be when that day comes."

Upcoming Events
Natural Death Care Workshop: Green Burial & "Aqua Green Cremation"

Sat, April 14, 2018
9:00am - Noon

River View Cemetery
0300 Southwest Taylors Ferry Road
Portland, OR 97219

(space is filling fast)

Workshop Highlights:


Learn about urban and rural green burial options and how to plan for a natural burial from David Noble, Executive Director of River View Cemetery & Jodie Buller, Cemetery Manager for White Eagle Memorial Preserve in Goldendale, WA.


Learn how families and communities can play a more hands-on role in creating meaningful death and burial rites with Holly Pruett, Life-Cycle Celebrant & Home Funeral Guide.


Learn about "Aqua Green Cremation" aka alkaline hydrolysis, considered an eco-friendly alternative to flame cremation, from Deon Strommer, owner of First Call Mortuary Services, who will begin offering this service through funeral homes this spring.

Optional: Tour River View Cemetery, the region's leading urban natural burial provider (following the workshop). 

Click image to read Ben's Story
Did you know...?
River View Cemetery is well-known as a leading resource on natural burial both locally and throughout the industry. Our Natural Burial web page is the most visited page on our site. Contact us if you'd like to arrange a presentation or a screening of the documentary A Will for the Woods
At River View, a historic non-profit cemetery, you can plan to be buried nearly anywhere in the cemetery, directly in the earth without chemical embalming, in a biodegradable casket or a simple shroud.  In the future, River View plans to begin construction of a new, dedicated Natural Burial Area - free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. And in coming years, we expect to make natural burial available in our beautiful forested areas. For more information: