On a quiet Sunday morning in the woods of Sherman, the Pascarella family completed a journey that began nearly a year and a half ago. The dying wish of their mother, who passed away after an illness at the age of 79, was to have a 'green' burial.
Green burials are designed to have less of an impact on the environment. The burials often use biodegradable caskets, and do not use chemicals for embalming, hardwood caskets, varnishes, vaults or liners.
Video provided to NBC Connecticut Investigates with the approval of Tessa Pascarella's family shows her wish finally being fulfilled, 17 months after she died.
"It was a great relief to be able to bury my mother," said Aldo Pascarella, Tessa's son.
Since Tessa died on January 21, 2018, her son has been fighting a bureaucratic battle. Aldo found himself in the process of seeking - and obtaining - state approval, along with getting approval from Sherman's Planning & Zoning Committee as well as the town's Inland Wetlands Commission.
On June 11 at town hall, final approval was given for a small, private cemetery on the family's own property.
"I would encourage who feels strongly about doing something in the world to go ahead and do it," Aldo said.
Green burials are legal in Connecticut and all 50 states, but there can often be restrictions at the local level concerning where, exactly, these burials can take place.
"Connecticut Green Burial Grounds is here to change that, to give everyone in the state the option of natural burial ground in a beautiful setting," said Elizabeth Foley, who is the founder of an organization trying to establish cemeteries specifically for green burials.
"There's a ton of interest," said Foley. "It's just trying to find the right land and the right conservation partners and that process takes time."
Tessa Pascarella's remains had been stored in a "climate-controlled environment" at Leo P. Gallagher Funeral Home in Stamford. The funeral home offers green funeral and burial options.
"We come into this world surrounded by people who love us and we leave this world surrounded by people who love us," said Aldo.
A 2018 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association showed nearly half of respondents were interested in exploring green funeral options; mostly for environmental or cost-saving reasons.
Two existing Connecticut cemeteries, in Danbury and Deep River, are already using a portion of their properties for green burials. But the Connecticut Green Burial Grounds group is pushing to create the region's first all-green cemetery.