Death can be a taboo subject and something that’s not typically discussed around the dinner table, at social events, or over morning coffee – until it happens. Then, families are forced to face many tough decisions related to a loved one, including burial or cremation, viewing or no viewing, funeral service or no funeral service…the list goes on.
Another decision that needs to be made is how to memorialize a loved one. Many people are starting to pre-plan their funeral and memorial, however, for the vast majority of Americans, this is still something that’s not done ahead of time and left to the family after a loved one passes.
So, how would your loved one prefer to be memorialized? This is a question that, if not discussed before they pass, needs to be determined by the family. Family members will think back and wonder what would he or she have wanted, what will be truly memorable, and what can they afford…
There are a growing number of affordable, uplifting memorial options available, especially for people who choose cremation. One, in particular, involves using an urn with ashes of a loved one to grow a memory tree. This option allows the person who passed to actually “give back” to the environment in the form of a tree and provides a living memorial of that person that can be cherished for years to come.
After researching various urns for ashes that grow trees (or claim to grow trees), The Living Urn, based in Denver, is one we found that actually works and they provide you with everything needed to grow a memory tree. The Living Urn is different because it is the only bio urn on the market designed to be used with a seedling, or baby tree. They provide you with a tree sapling of your choice with lots of beautiful options for all different parts of the country that is sent to your doorstep directly form the Arbor Day Foundation’s nursery. They also offer a less expensive option where you can get your own baby tree and integrate it with The Living Urn. In addition, this bio urn comes with their special additive, RootProtect, that serves to counter certain properties in ash to make a more suitable growing environment for a tree. These differences are important because other bio urns we found came with no additives and a few seeds, which unless you have a greenhouse and a green thumb, is something that’s much more challenging to grow into a tree.
In addition to creating a living memorial that can be visited by family and friends for decades to come, the trees that grow from bio urns also give back to the environment. This is important, especially since land in many areas is becoming more scarce and cemeteries continue to expand taking up more and more space. Cemeteries also consume a significant amount of our precious resources. Every year in the U.S. alone, cemeteries consume over 30 million board feet of hardwoods, over 100,000 tons of steel, and 1.5 million tons of concrete. In addition, over 5 million gallons of embalming fluid is used, which studies have shown can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater.
By choosing cremation and an alternative memorial, such as using a bio urn to grow a memory tree from their loved one’s ashes, a family and the person who passed can actually help the environment and give back to future generations. Trees consume carbon dioxide, provide oxygen, serve as a habitat for wildlife, and can help prevent soil erosion, among other benefits.
Over the next 20 to 30 years, the baby boomer generation will inevitably pass. What legacy will they leave with – more “dead space” in our overcrowded cemeteries, or will they choose cremation and “give back” in the form of a tree or something else?
According to research performed by Chris Coutts, a professor of urban planning at Florida State University, and Carlton Basmajian, an assistant urban planning professor at Iowa State University, 76 million Americans are expected to reach their average life expectancy between 2024 and 2042. If all 76 million are buried standard plots, it would require about 130 square miles of additional cemetery space - an area about the size of Atlanta!