Tyler Cassity, owner of Fernwood Cemetery in Mill Valley near the entrance to Tam Junction, says that working in the death care industry changes you.
“It can do two things, and it’s probably done both to me,” Cassity told the San Francisco Chronicle last month. Fernwood specializes in green — i.e., embalming-free — burials, and as does their Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. “There’s a lot of substance abuse in our business,” he said. But this line of work can also make one more spiritual.
“But to speak to Bay Area death care workers who’ve charted unconventional paths in the industry is to realize that many fears of death are disguised desires to avoid honestly assessing our lives. It’s also to realize that creating ritual and meaning around death is its own kind of art,” wrote Chronicle reporter Lily Janiak.
Burial, Cassity told Janiak, “is about what home means. I try to imagine myself being left out in the forest three hours away, where I don’t know anyone, and it feels weird, even though I don’t exist. These purchases are made because of what we imagine, more than what is.” “And yet imagination is powerful. It’s everything,” Cassity said.