More and more families are choosing cremation due to the lower cost of cremation (vs. burial), families being less traditional, and many other reasons. With cremation on the rise, there is a growing need for memorial options that include cremated ashes and allow families to memorialize their loved one in a way that is meaningful and personal. There are now a growing number of unique options available including scattering ashes in a special place, burying ashes in a traditional or biodegradable burial urn, or infusing a portion of the ashes into a piece of jewelry or decorative glass. Another unique and beautiful option that is growing in popularity is having a tree funeral with The Living Urn biodegradable tree urn and planting system.
What is a Tree Funeral?
A tree funeral is a funeral that involves a ceremony where friends and family gather and plant a tree in honor of their loved one who has passed. Many now include planting a tree in combination with a special bio urn containing a loved one’s ashes. These types of funerals are becoming more and more popular throughout the U.S. and worldwide and result in a beautiful living memorial of the special person who passed that can be cherished by family and friends for generations to come.
The Living Urn, the most common bio urn used in tree funerals, was introduced in 2015 and has been used to plant tens of thousands memory trees. Then Living Urn is a patented biodegradable urn and planting system that includes everything you need to plant a tree memorial with a loved one’s ashes. The system includes a unique all-natural biodegradable urn made from recycled plant materials that breaks down quickly when planted so the tree roots can grow freely and unimpeded, and RootProtect®, a special soil additive that counters certain properties of cremated ashes that can make the growing environment difficult for a newly planted tree. The system also includes aged wood chips (mulch), a detailed planting instruction book, and a 1-4 foot young, healthy tree of choice which is shipped directly from The Living Urn’s award-winning nursery to your doorstep ready to plant. In addition, The Living Urn comes packaged in an attractive eco-friendly casing made from bamboo, a sustainable resource, perfect for planting ceremonies and funerals.
Things to Consider for a Tree Funeral
There are several things to consider when planning a tree funeral, or funeral including a tree planting ceremony. This includes, but may not be limited to the following:
Choosing a Date
The first step is to choose a date. It is important that this is at a time when you know you will have your loved one’s ashes back from the funeral home or cremation service provider. It may also be important to you to make sure it is a time when family and friends can attend. You will also want to coordinate to have the tree you will be planting in-hand before the ceremony.
Location of the Tree Planting
Other things to consider is the location of the planting and the tree that will be planted. This includes checking the sun and shade requirements of the tree you select. Many people will plant on their own private property or have another planting location that may have special meaning to you or your loved one who passed. Many families also plant tree memorials in local or national parks, memorial gardens, cemeteries, on church properties, golf courses, and many other unique places. Different cities and states have varying rules that you can look into with a quick internet search. The Living Urn has also started Memory Forest for families who need a place to plant. These consist of a number of cemeteries and memorial parks throughout the country who welcome having a Living Urn planted and care for the tree going forward.
Religious Person and/or Speakers?
After the date and location of the tree funeral and planting has been determined, another thing to decide upon is whether you would like to have a religious person present at the funeral and if family or friends would like to speak in honor of the loved one who passed. Many planting ceremonies are relatively informal and people can stand up and speak if they prefer, while others are more formal with everything set up ahead of time. Either way, the ceremony will provide for an uplifting, happy event to remember, reflect, and honor a special life lived. Many refer to this as a celebration of life instead of a funeral.
Preparing the Planting Site
After reflecting on and remembering your loved one, many ceremonies typically then have the actual planting. The first step of the planting is to prepare the site (this involves pulling out any weeds/grass that may exist on the site and digging the hole to plant the bio urn and tree). For this step, we recommend a rake and a shovel or two. Many families will have the planting site prepared before the ceremony (so it will only involve the planting and not the preparation), while others include this as part of the ceremony and let anybody who wants to be involved in the process.
Preparing the Bio Urn and Tree
Many families or their local funeral home will fill The Living Urn’s biotree urn with a loved one’s cremated ashes prior to the planting ceremony. This involves carefully transferring the ashes into the bottom of the bio urn. You can use as much or as little of the ashes as desired - The Living Urn is designed to be used with up to one set or as little as you wish. The tree will arrive well packaged – it is important to carefully remove this prior to the ceremony and planting.
The planting is a straightforward process and The Living Urn comes with easy to follow instructions. In general, the bio urn is removed from the bamboo cylinder and the bag of the RootProtect® additive is poured on top of the cremated ashes present at the bottom of the bio urn. The family then follows the instructions to plant The Living Urn in combination with the tree. The soil is filled back in the hole and a thick layer of mulch is applied followed by a generous watering.
During the planting, many people will choose to have multiple people, including family and friends, involved in the planting. Even simply adding a scoop of the soil around the tree or some mulch at its base can make people feel more involved and connected to the living tree memorial in honor of the loved one who passed.
Ceremony or Celebration
After the memorial tree planting is done, many choose to continue the funeral or celebration. People can speak and reflect on the loved one who passed, you can hold a moment of silence giving everybody present a chanced to clear their mind and reflect on the lost loved one, host a lunch or dinner, play their favorite music, and so on. There are virtually endless options to make the celebration of life meaningful, personal and memorable for your family.