After a year of collective loss, Los Angeles woodworker C.C. Boyce has found a new and compelling source of inspiration for her work—death.
“I never intended to get into the death care industry,” Boyce says, but now she finds herself contributing to the death positivity movement, a movement that is largely woman-driven that seeks to break the taboos and discomfort when it comes to death.
Her contribution? Beautiful planters that are actually urns filled with cremated remains and topped with a living plant.
“The shape of the traditional urn is so embedded in our psychology,” says Jill Schock, a death doula whose work focuses primarily on terminally ill cancer patients. “We all have unconscious anxiety about death. When people see a traditional urn in your living room, they immediately know what it is, and it makes them uncomfortable.” Boyce’s urns, on the other hand, are vessels for life.
Most of Boyce’s clients reach out to her because they can’t find an urn “good enough” for their departed loved one. According to Boyce, one man had even given up trying to find something for his wife who had died three years prior, “because everything was ugly, mass-produced, and not her style.”
Boyce’s Planturns, however, are anything but ugly. She creates modern, minimal, and decorative cremation urns out of two pieces of wood. Instead of the traditional vase shape, Boyce’s urns come in three different sizes to accommodate humans and pets, and are geometric, and are made of wood sourced from fallen trees. The urns come with a muslin bag to hold the remains, which is then topped with a plant holder. The woodworker suggests topping the urn off with succulents, cactuses, or air plants.
“It has been such a rewarding experience, especially during the pandemic. It felt good to know that I was helping people,” she says. Not a stranger to loss herself, Boyce has learned to become comfortable with death and to weave it into her craft. “Experiencing so much loss has taught me to hold on to empathy,” she says. “I never really lose sight of what people are going through. Sometimes people don’t take pet empathy seriously, but I do. I’m always willing to listen. And I always think about the people who died as I make each urn. Sometimes I try to match the wood to the pet’s fur.”
We at The Optimist Daily have written about some of the trends related to death positivity such as green burials, tree burials, and natural organic reduction (aka human composting). This is another way in which we can make death more approachable and natural.
Boyce’s goal is to give people an opportunity to keep their loved ones close while still allowing themselves to accept that they are gone and that they must move on, just as life does. Having a beautiful urn with a thriving plant that anyone would be proud to have on their coffee table lets people still feel connected to their loved ones, yet not have it be a painful reminder of what they’ve lost.
Source Image: Boyce Studio