The sun beats down on a rustic path, shaped like a heart, woven among aspen trees, patches of grass and, in the spring and summer, wildflowers. Water trickles down a small stream. Birds chirp. Bees from a nearby hive swarm.
Seven Stones, a cemetery northeast of Roxborough, is filled with life.
It’s just what Liz Gardener’s late stepfather, Ross Maple, would have wanted, she said.
“Ross loved the land, he loved his garden, he loved my mom,” said Gardener, of southeast Denver. “This seemed like the best place.”
Gardener’s stepfather died 24 years ago. She found his urn as she was cleaning out her mother’s home.
Gardener had been holding on to her stepfather’s ashes, unsure what to do with them. Then she saw Seven Stone’s “Free Communal Placement Day” on March 1. She had never been to the cemetery but liked the location — Maple was raised down the road in Englewood — and the concept.
“To me, environmentally, it makes sense,” Gardener said. “It felt in tune with nature.”
Seven Stones, 9635 N Rampart Range Road, has hosted the event two years in a row and served 12 families. Gardener, accompanied by her husband Roy, was one of two people who made an appointment March 1. Loved ones’ ashes are placed in a 10-foot deep ossuary on the western edge of the serene cemetery. Normally $495, the placement is free that day.
Kristin Scott was the first person to place her late husband’s ashes in the ossuary in 2018. She and her two children, along with their dog, visit often. In the spring and summer, they go there to watch the sunset.
“It’s like a park more than it is a cemetery,” Scott, who lives in Roxborough, said. “It’s just beautiful.”
Rebecca Holm, director of customer care, sees the free placement day as a way to give back to the community.
“A lot of people don’t know what to do with cremains,” Holm said. “That’s not something that you want your kids to have to worry about.”
The communal ossuary is one of many burial options at the cemetery, which opened in April 2015. Others include ground burial, green burial, mausoleum and pet memorials.
Phase one of the 33-acre property has 4,000 placements, with room to expand to roughly 55,000 to 75,000 placements. As the need grows, it will grow, Holm said.
Seven Stones isn’t your run-of-the-mill cemetery. It’s not somber or spooky. There aren’t rows of headstones. It’s not confined.
It’s light, peaceful, open — a breath of fresh air.
“We do not want it to be a place of death,” Rebecca Holm said as she walked among the memorials, a mix of granite headstones, bronze plaques, colorful stained glass and tall columns of black basalt stone. “It’s a place for the living.”
Seven Stones’ mission is to provide a gathering space where friends and families can remember, connect and share — a place to mourn and heal in the comfort of nature. Surrounding the property are miles of untouched land, the High Line Canal and the foothills.
Gardener’s first time at Seven Stones won’t be her last.
“It must have been meant to be that we inherited Ross’ ashes,” she said, “so we would find Seven Stones for ourselves.”
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