Education — Support

About the Laying‑In

Recompose calls the practice of placing a body into a vessel the “laying‑in.” The laying‑in marks the moment your person's transformation into soil begins. 

Much like the moment when a body is interred into the earth during a burial, the laying-in represents a moment of transition. We invite family and friends to join us for their person’s laying-in if they choose, currently via video streaming. Each laying-in happens at our location in Kent, Washington, called the Greenhouse. At this time, we are not hosting in-person gatherings.

Participation is optional, and it can look and feel different for every person or family. Some people decide to hold space for sharing memories, while others use this time to learn about their person’s transformation into soil. The experience can exist anywhere you choose on the scale between informal and conversational to somber and contemplative. All choices, vibes, and feelings are valid.

Options for Your Laying-In

Recompose’s services manager Morgan Yarborough will lead you through the planning process. She will work with you to answer questions like who should be invited, what pictures you would like shared, and your person’s favorite music. In the past, Recompose families have personalized this event with plants from their person’s garden and songs written by their person’s family. Our staff will facilitate the technical side of streaming the laying-in and any other assistance you or other guests may need.

At the time of the laying-in, you will see our Greenhouse space on your screen. The view will include our white vessel array, plants, and a projected image of the Bells Mountain forest. Your person’s body will be in view, laying on a dark green bed we call a cradle, draped in a natural cloth.

The core steps of the laying-in include:

  • Your person’s body is present
  • Recompose staff cover your person’s body in plant material
  • We gently move your person’s body into a Recompose vessel
  • Our staff closes the door to the vessel and their transformation into soil begins

A laying-in can be beautiful and complete with just these steps. You can also choose to add options like:

  • A carbon cycle ceremony (see below)
  • A candle lighting
  • Guided breathing
  • A eulogy
  • A faith leader or a special speaker (which we can help you find)
  • A slideshow of pictures
  • Time for guests to share memories and stories
  • Recompose staff explaining how we prepare the body
  • Readings and music

We also invite you to bring your own creative aspects to your person’s laying-in. We are here to make it feel right for you and your people.

An Example of a Carbon Cycle Ceremony

One option for your laying-in is a ceremony inspired by the carbon cycle, written and facilitated by our services manager Morgan Yarborough. According to NOAA, “The carbon cycle is nature’s way of reusing carbon atoms, which travel from the atmosphere into organisms in the Earth and then back into the atmosphere over and over again.” This ritual helps remind us of our place in that cycle and the transition of our person from their human form to a part of the natural collective.

Below is an example of how a carbon cycle ceremony can look. We will call the person who has died “Darby.”

Step 1: Light

We invite all participants to light a candle.

Morgan says: “Lighting a candle calls to mind the sun, warmth, photosynthesis, and the power of light. This flame calls our attention to the memory of Darby.”

Step 2: Breath

We invite all participants to bring their mind to their breath.  

Morgan says “By breathing, we connect with life itself. Every single living thing breathes, and each breath releases carbon back into the cycle. Let each breath we take right now ground us in this moment.”

Step 3: Plants 

We gently cover Darby’s body with plant material, including wood chips and straw.

Morgan says: “As we cover Darby’s body with these plants, we are aware of the beautiful gift she is giving to the earth. These plants will power her body’s transformation into soil.”

Step 4: Earth 

We place the plant-covered cradle into a Recompose vessel and close the door.

Morgan says: “This moment provides an opportunity to offer words of memory and farewell, knowing that it is now time for the familiar form and shape of Darby to change. We hold in our hearts a duality: both the immense difficulty and the immense beauty in knowing that Darby’s molecules will be transformed and incorporated back into life.

Darby, thank you for your time with us, and for your beautiful gift to the planet.” The laying-in ceremony is complete.

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Land Acknowledgement

Recompose acknowledges we make our lives and livelihoods on the lands of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Duwamish People. We honor with gratitude the Duwamish People past and present, the land itself, and the Duwamish Tribe.

Colonization is an active, persistent process. Indigenous communities continue to be resilient in protecting their ecological and cultural lifeways and deathways despite ongoing oppression. Recompose respects, shares, and supports this commitment to climate healing and environmental justice. Join Recompose in contributing to Real Rent Duwamish.