Earth and Water are elemental symbols of life and meaning that have been used in religious rites and special ceremonies since the earliest of times. Either can be incorporated meaningfully into a service of remembrance and appreciation, with participants sharing their memories of occasions or places that were special to the deceased person.

Participants should be notified ahead of time to bring with them a small sample of soil (or water) that was in some way significant. The possible sources of the soil or water are many: where the deceased was born, where he lived over time, where he wanted to visit, where significant events of his life happened, where fond shared memories were created, where he made a difference in the world…

During the ceremony, each person shares the story of the significance of the soil (or water) as the sample is added to a communal collection bowl: “This soil from (location) represents (or reminds me of)…” This sharing of different stories about the loved one provides a wonderful opportunity for remembrances and commemoration, but each person should also have the option of participating in silence for a private memory.

At the end of the ceremony the collected communal soil (or water) can be used as a special remembrance in one of several possible ways:

– put into a decorative container and added to the casket.
– put into the grave or spread on the grave site after burial.
– mixed with clay or other binder and made into a decorative object.
– placed in a significant location, perhaps marking the spot from where the ashes are scattered.
– put into a planter that is situated in a place of meaning.
– placed in a hole dug to plant a memorial tree.
– added to a recirculating water fountain.