Trees Not Tombstones: Remembering Loved Ones Outside

While fewer people are choosing traditional burial in cemeteries, families often still want a place to visit — or the feeling of pride that comes with stewardship — as a reminder of their loved one. For many, nature provides the perfect setting.

Public green spaces are a great place to honor memories with a plaque, bench, tree or donation that honors a loved one.

For those who want their ashes buried under a particular memorial tree, a Better Place Forests might be the right choice. The company, based in California, lets you choose a tree for a starting price of just under $3,000, which includes a marker and ceremony. Like Solace, our friends at Better Place have no surprises or hidden fees. Their memorial forests are located in Point Arena and Santa Cruz, California, as well as Flagstaff, Arizona.

The U.S. Forest Service is supported by tax dollars, but you can bolster their tree planting efforts through several organizations including the Arbor Day Foundation  with their Trees in Memory program. Many charities will acknowledge the donation with a card in your loved one’s memory.

In Portland, you can donate in memory of someone to the Hoyt Arboretum. Unfortunately, the city’s adopt-a-bench program is currently on hiatus. Friends of Trees also has programs for gift trees, but the givers cannot attend at this time (the organization says to look on the website for updates). You can purchase one tree for $35 or six for $100. Oregon Parks Forever (formerly Oregon State Parks Foundation) also offers tribute gifts as does Portland Audubon.

In Seattle, you can donate to the Seattle Parks Foundation in someone’s name. At Seattle’s Arboretum, for $10,000 you can dedicate a bench, or for $1,000, give a tree. You can also donate in any amount in memory of someone. The University of Washington also offers a memorial donation program (benches $5,000, trees $500). You can donate to the Washington State Parks Foundation as well. Pierce County offers memorial park benches for a $5,000 donation and Snohomish County also has a program with benches for just over $2,000.

Want to know more about the laws, regulations and cost of planting memorial trees? Our colleagues at Cake have a helpful “how-to” on the subject.

Even a tree, bench or rock in your own backyard can serve as a memorial. Whatever you choose, we hope it helps create a peaceful place to remember your loved one in the healing environment of nature.

Photo by Veronica Gomez

Solace Cremation offers online arrangements for direct cremation services with one flat price and 24-7 customer service. Solace proudly serves the Portland and Seattle metro areas. Learn more.

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