When you think about the end of your life, you might feel drawn to the natural world. It makes sense - we’re a part of nature. It feeds us, it soothes us, it helps us remember who we are.
Many people lean towards trees as their end-of-life choice. Trees give life, and some of them sustain us with fruits, nuts, and maple syrup. They shade us. We build homes from their wood. The list goes on.
We’re also learning more about how they communicate through elaborate networks underground – even sustaining trunks of long-gone trees by sharing their own nutrients. In this way, they have community. Imagine being part of a long-lived, caring community after you die.
How can I become a tree?
You might be surprised at how many ways this can happen. Let’s explore.
Choose a tree in a protected forest for your ashes
With this option, you not only become a tree, but you help save the forest. You start by choosing a tree (or, perhaps, you choose each other) in our Berkshires forest. This land is managed by Better Place Forests, and every chosen memorial tree helps protect it – and all the life that depends on it.
Long before you become part of the tree, you can develop a relationship with it. You can picnic, hike, and explore the forest and get to know its living community through the seasons. You can watch it flourish and see what you’ll become a part of.
When the time comes, your ashes are spread at your personal tree. Just before spreading, your ashes are mixed with local soil to balance the mixture, making it easy for the tree and environment to incorporate it. Once your ashes are spread, wildflowers are, too. You can even choose to release butterflies or rehabilitated wildlife. And you can personalize your memorial in any way you choose, religious or otherwise, to make it uniquely yours.
One thing that makes this option truly special is its conservational aspect. Many people want to leave a legacy and give meaning to their death. Protecting a forest and its life with one’s ashes is a way to do that.
Choosing a memorial tree also plants reforestation saplings through a partnership with One Tree Planted, growing forests across the US and beginning new life.
There’s also the opportunity to develop a relationship with your tree and its forest.
We chose our Berkshires forest for its conservation value – meaning that it’s in a natural, scenic, historic, agricultural, forested, or open-space condition. Berkshires and our other forests are often wildlife habitats that might otherwise be destroyed for development. Your memorial tree protects the land from these threats. If you’d like to learn more about this option, call Better Place Forests at 877-830-8311.
Place your ashes in a biodegradable urn
Choosing a biodegradable urn may not protect a forest, but does help you become a tree. Your cremated ashes are placed in an urn made of organic materials that will decompose over time.
The urn is lowered into a planting hole and covered with soil. A young tree is planted above the urn and surrounded with soil. The earth is then pressed down on, to support the structure of both the urn and the tree. The final layer is mulch. With regular watering and protection (from weather and animals), the young tree can grow and integrate your ashes as the urn breaks down.
Be naturally, organically reduced
This process is also known as human composting. Your body would not be embalmed, as with traditional burial (this makes it better for the environment, as embalming uses toxic chemicals).
Instead, the body is placed in an enclosure or vessel with other organic materials. After about six to eight weeks, it becomes soil.
Once the composting process is complete, family and loved ones can use the soil for planting – including to support a tree. This process creates about a cubic yard of soil (enough to fill a truck bed).
This kind of burial may not be an option if you’ve undergone certain medical treatments like radiation. So far, human composting is only available in the states of Washington and Colorado, though several others are considering legalizing it.
Be placed in a biodegradable tree pod
This option is still in development and not yet available to purchase. So far, there have only been conceptual representations of biodegradable burial pods. In theory, the body goes inside the pod which is buried and a tree is planted on top. The body becomes nutrients for the tree as it decomposes.
You can help the earth by becoming a tree
Any of these options cares for the environment and makes your legacy impactful. Learn more about becoming a tree in our Berkshires forest by visiting our website at betterplaceforests.com or by calling 877-830-8311. We welcome your questions and would love to help.