Trees Are a Living Tribute to Our Loved Ones, so Lose the Gravestones

Marilyn Regan Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

In the words of poet Joyce Kilmer, “I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree.”

True, but have you ever considered coming back as one?

And not only that but the tree of your choice? Now it’s possible. It’s not creepy or morbid, just a matter of transformation.

It’s a way of completing the circle of life, but in a sense, it’s a way for your life, or at least part of you, to continue in the physical world.

From your ashes, a beautiful Red Maple, Red Oak, Pink Dogwood, White Dogwood, Weeping Willow, Japanese Flowering Cherry, Japanese Red Maple, Sugar Maple, Crape Myrtle, Sweetbay Magnolia, Sycamore, Tulip, Ginkgo Biloba, or American Elm Tree can grow.

And I’m sure there are others.

So not only are you transformed but depending on where you live, you choose what type of tree you can become. It depends on the climate of the region where you live. 

The thought of rising up instead of lying in a grave, whether for me or a loved one, brings me great comfort. Imagine looking up at a tree in the Fall, knowing that someone you knew and loved is a part of it?

And wouldn’t it be wonderful to do away with the cost of gravestones and the desolate landscape they form?

It is possible.

The land is for the living.

Graveyards are for the dead, but they no longer need the land. We, the living, do, however. We also need more trees, and trees are a great source of oxygen and cooling as we grapple with the effects of global warming.

Thanks to The Living Urn® and the growing popularity of cremation, we now have the option to memorialize our loved ones and maybe ourselves while creating a beautiful space.

The urn is biodegradable, referred to as a “bio urn,” and transforms ashes or cremated remains into a tree, plant, or flower. All you do is add the ashes to the kit's fertilizer and plant the tree or plant above it. 

As the tree grows, the urn dissolves, and you or your loved ones' ashes metamorphose into a new living creation. It’s not quite reincarnation, but it’s a lovely thought.

Markers are available, but there’s no need to purchase a gravestone. 

And just think, the memorial itself is alive.

Plan in Advance

You can order your living urn in advance. Then bring it to the funeral home to collect the ashes, which you can plant anywhere. 

If you prefer a memorial park, check to see if there’s a Memory Forest nearby.

Memory Forest was established in 2018 by the same team who invented The Living Urn, and there are several locations. And yes, you can purchase ongoing tree care and memorial stones.

Another alternative is to lay the ashes to rest in an established forest, though they are limited at this time.

Better Place Forests is a start-up buying forests south of Silicon Valley and arranging easements, so the land is never developed. They have raised $12M in venture capital funding are also looking at four other spots, so stay tuned if this option interests you. 


If you prefer to keep your loved one closer to home, there’s no need to purchase room in a Memorial Forest or any other memorial park. The urn can be planted on your property. 

There are living urns designed for your patio and indoors as well. The plant urn is designed to hold a houseplant or a bonsai tree. So again, new life is born.

And there are also urns for pets.

Living as a tree

Death is not something anyone wants to think about. But like change, it is inevitable, even for those we love the most. 

I would love to remember them as I look up into the tree’s branches as the leaves rustle in the wind. 

Graveyards, especially the older ones, are sad, lonely places that echo death's finality with no hint of an afterlife. Even newer ones are crammed with large gravestones, many of which have been deserted as family members have passed or moved away. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

And the land we use to memorialize the dead can be enjoyed by the living, supporting life on earth, providing oxygen, cooling to global warming, and homes to birds and animals.

Now that’s leaving a living legacy.

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Marilyn is a writer, yogi, spiritual medium and animal lover. She is a Bostonian in every sense and has the accent to prove it. She loves the ocean, the outdoors, wine, and sleeping in. She days what she means and doesn't waste words. Finally, she is mother to one son, two cats and has three grandchildren.


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