The Recompose vessel
1/2: The laying‑in allows friends and family to participate virtually as your person's body is covered in plant material and gently placed in a Recompose vessel. 
2/2: Each laying‑in is streamed via Zoom from the Recompose Greenhouse. 
Education Article — 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 Zoom video streaming. Each laying-in happens at our location in Kent, Washington, called the Greenhouse. Laying-In ceremonies may be scheduled to begin at any time between 10am and 1pm PT on Wednesdays or Fridays and can be expected to last around 15-20 minutes. Families and guests are welcome to stay in the Zoom afterwards to share memories and be in community with each other. Participation is optional.

At this time, we are not hosting in-person gatherings.

Options for Your Laying-In

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.

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 faith leader or a special speaker (which we can help you find)

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.

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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.