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September 17, 2018 Beyond The Dash

Planting a Tree in Honor of a Loved One

A natural memorial that lives on

Planting a Tree in Honor of a Loved One
The whole family can get involved with memorial planting/ (Shutterstock)

You've lost a loved one, someone who made up an important part of your life. You survived the funeral service, received condolences and received emails from old friends offering support. You took some friends up on this, discussed grief and the hole that is left behind now that your loved one is no longer here. The shock of the death has mostly subsided and you are finally starting to understand what people meant when they said "life goes on—this will get easier."

It's good you've returned to some semblance of normal, but it's hard to see how easily the world continues without the person who meant so much to you. If you have reached this point in bereavement, you might be looking for a way to create a lasting tribute to your loved one—something more life-affirming than a tombstone or urn. There are many ways families create permanent memorials for a loved one, from sponsoring a memorial plaque or bench, to establishing a memorial trust or scholarship in their name. But have you ever considered planting a tree in honor of your loved one's life? 

The importance of memorializing a deceased loved one

Everyone grieves differently, but the fact remains that everyone does grieve. When you lose a friend or family member, it can be a painful and confusing time. You may have unexplainable feelings, like anger or confusion—and many, many questions. Why did this happen? What am I supposed to do now? These questions are normal to ask, but difficult to answer. 

Rather than dwelling on these questions, it's helpful to focus on coping with the death and moving forward. By memorializing a deceased loved one, you can both honor their memory and give yourself a beautiful reminder of their life. Planting a tree is a wonderful way to memorialize someone in a way that positively celebrates life.

The benefits of a memorial that grows

There are many benefits of choosing a living memorial to represent the life of your loved one:

  • A tree will last for generations, so you and your family can visit time and again.

  • Living tree memorials have a positive environmental impact. Trees clean the air we breathe!

  • You get to choose a location that is meaningful to your family, or convenient to visit.

  • Trees provide beautiful community green space that everyone can enjoy. 

  • Trees are more life-affirming than memorial tombstones, urns and other traditional reminders of death. 

How to get started

When it comes to how to plant a tree for your loved one, there are several options: 

  • Funeral memorial seeds

Some families choose to give out seeds at the funeral reception so all guests can have a hand in honoring the deceased person in their own way. This is a nice memento of the funeral service, that will also have a hand in beautifying your community. 

  • Nature preserve

You can also with a local park or nature reserve to have a tree planted. This is a good option if you live somewhere that has limited planting space or stiff restrictions for planting new trees. Check you local state laws to ensure any memorial trees are planted in accordance with your community's regulations. 

  • At home

Planting a memorial tree in your own backyard means that every time you look outside, you're reminded of your loved one. This can be a more private memorial for your family. The main benefit is that you have control over the care of the tree, and can ensure it is well maintained. If you are planning on moving any time soon, though, this might not be the best option for you.

  • Living urns

You can also incorporate the cremains of your loved one into their memorial tree. Bios Urn is a company that can help your family do just that. These urns are potted plants that incorporate your loved ones ashes into the cultivation of the tree. 

The Living Urn is another company that can help you plant a living memorial. You can add your loved one's cremains to these urns and plant them in an outdoor space. That way, the tree that grows is not just representative of your loved one, but grows from their remains as well. 

Creating new life is a cathartic and environmentally friendly way to memorialize your loved one after they have passed. (Shutterstock)

A lasting memorial

There is something undeniably beautiful about the concept of returning to our roots. By planting a tree in honor of a loved one, you can ensure that they are memorialized forever. Trees are not only beautiful to look at, but they also provide shade, shelter and food. They are sources of life. What better way to memorialize your deceased loved one than in a way that returns them back to life itself?

Taking concrete action to memorialize a loved one can be instrumental in your own healing process. Not only that, but it ensures that your loved one is never forgotten—by you, your family or by anyone else who happens upon their memorial. 

Don't have a green thumb?

If you are looking for a meaningful and lasting way to memorialize your loved one, but just can't keep plants alive, a memorial tree might not be the best way to honor them. 

Write your loved one's life story on Beyond the Dash. You can add photos, post memories and share the online memorial with your loved ones. It's an elegant way to pay tribute to the life of your loved one—and it's totally free. 

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