room for a green funeral with human composting bed
1/2: The body is present on a dark green bed—the cradle—and shrouded in natural cloth and greenery for the laying-in ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the cradle is moved into the threshold vessel, where the transformation into soil begins.
human composting vessel
2/2: The threshold vessel

About the Laying-In Ceremony

The laying-in ceremony is similar to a graveside service or a green funeral and allows you the opportunity to honor your loved one with care and respect.

Much like the moment when a body is interred into the earth during a burial, the laying-in represents a moment of transition. Family and friends have the option to join us for their person’s laying-in if they choose. In-person ceremonies are available at our Seattle location.

Laying-in ceremonies may be scheduled weekdays at either 10am or 2pm. Ceremonies are up to one hour in length, with limited additional hours that may be available. The Gathering Space is a small ceremonial space, designed for an intimate and meaningful experience. A maximum of 15 guests can be welcomed into this room, not including assisting Services Staff.

Options for Your Laying-In Ceremony

Recompose’s Services team will lead you through the planning process. They will work with you to answer questions like picking a day and time, who should be invited, and what music should be played during the laying-in. Our staff will facilitate the technical side of streaming the laying-in and any other assistance you or other guests may need.

When you arrive at Recompose Seattle, you will be greeted by a member of our Services team who will guide you to the Gathering Space. Your person’s body will be in view when you walk into the Gathering Space, laying on a dark green bed we call a cradle, draped in a natural cloth. The cradle will be stationed in front of our white, hexagonal threshold vessel, which is a passageway to our vessel system. A Recompose Services Specialist will guide you through the ceremony from start to finish.

When all guests have arrived, the Services Specialist will begin the laying-in.

The core elements of the laying-in ceremony include:

  • Your person’s body is present
  • Family and friends, or Recompose staff, cover your person’s body in plant material
  • With help from our staff, friends and family gently move your person’s body into the threshold vessel
  • Our staff closes the door to the vessel and the ceremony is complete

A laying-in ceremony 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 faith leader or a special speaker

Optionally, if you do not wish to be present for a streamed laying-in, our team can record the laying-in for you. We will send you a link to view and share the recording at a later time.

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.

Additional Options

  • Special music chosen by you or Recompose staff
  • A photo slideshow
  • Guest speakers
  • Flowers or other plants to send with your person
  • Open mic time of sharing
  • Religious leaders or outside celebrants
  • Poetry readings, scripture, song, or prayer

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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.