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What is “Terramation?”

Legally titled Natural Organic Reduction, the process of soil transformation has gathered a host of alternative or locally coined names, such as human composting, body composting, and even less accurate descriptions like “human mulching.” As much as we love the use of non-death-denying terminology like human composting, we also realize that this is a new process that people need to get their head around and that a suitable name is softer sounding and more appropriate in some circumstances. 

With that in mind, Return Home decided that, much like we do not call cremation “human incineration,” we wanted a term that would allow us to explain our process in a softer manner… terramation. We feel that there is a distinct difference between using death denying language and having a word to correctly describe the service we offer. Plus, not all natural organic reduction services are the same, so we use this term for our actual process!

Lots of funeral related words come from two main suffixes, “ment” and “mation. “Ment” meaning “the result or product of” and “mation’ meaning “the creation of.” We already are familiar with words such as interment, entombment, cremation, and aquamation when it comes to funeral related language.

When looking at Return Home’s human composting service, we decided that what we do is simply create soil. That said, we wanted to coin a “creation of” or ‘mation” term for our process. What do we create? Earth. Terra. Thus the creation of “terramation” which completely describes our process. We take loved ones’ remains and make earth!

Our hope is that as human composting becomes more and more popular the word terramation will become a part of our vocabulary when discussing deathcare options. Just as easy to discuss as cremation is today.

So while we do still often use human composting to describe our process, you will hear us use terramation even more. Terramation is our gentle, non-invasive soil transformation procedure. 

Terramation is not the only new term you may hear at Return Home’s human composting facility. We named our visitation process a  “laying in” because it perfectly describes that part of our process. It is the time at which we lay the decedent into their terramation vessel with the organic mixture of straw, alfalfa and sawdust. The family may also lay in items with their loved one; anything compostable, consumable, or biodegradable!

You may also hear us refer to “compostable garments.” or WISPs (wrapped in swaddled protection). These are the soft gowns that we place every decedent in after their bath. These fluffy robes were created specifically for our process to ensure they completely break down during the human composting process. 

Return Home isn’t just creating new disposition methods with terramation; we are creating new vocabulary to explain the processes within!

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