Skip to main content

Becoming A Tree In The Afterlife

By July 10, 2024No Comments

deep roots

When I die, she said, I’m coming back as a tree with deep roots & I’ll wave my leaves at the children every morning on their way to school & whisper tree songs at night in their dreams. Trees with deep roots know about the things children need. (with thanks to Brian Andreas at StoryPeople)

– – – – – 

At some inevitable point, hopefully far off in the misty reaches of my future, I’ll come face to face with my Creator. We each have our turn on this merry-go-round called life, a spin granted for reasons as varied and mysterious as the constellations. 

Eventually, we all step off, leaving our families behind and embark on our own celestial voyage.

Rather than leaving our grieving survivors to navigate the bureaucratic maze and financial strain of our burial or cremation, we have the foresight to orchestrate our own final act. 

My mother did exactly that, as did Phylipa’s father – an undeniable relief for those of us left behind.

If you fancy a burial, plan ahead. But remember, burial plots are becoming as rare as a courteous bailiff. One day, you might end up as the foundation for a block of flats, a fate as grim as it sounds.

Thirty years ago, in Hong Kong, I witnessed a peculiar yet practical solution. One of the banks unveiled a vast safety deposit vault in its new basement, much to the delight of the Chinese clientele. The bank’s robust reputation, together with escalators, red carpets (red being a fortuitous colour in China), and the air-conditioned vault made it an attractive resting place for the mortal remains of Grandad, so to speak.

The Chinese, with their Confucian blueprint, have a different approach to honouring their dead. Hong Kong’s graveyard prices are sky-high. During the Ching Ming Festival (April) and Cheung Yuen Festival (October), when families gather to pay their respects to the dead, traffic jams to the graveyards are inevitable and refreshment prices soar.

But for those families with foresight, Grandad is now interred in a bank safety deposit box. This arrangement is not only more cost-effective but also allows for a delightful pre-festival outing before returning Grandad to his cool, secure resting place without enduring a traffic jam.

For those with deep pockets, you can have your ashes interred into the roots of a sequoia or redwood. No names/markers are allowed, and the privilege will cost you a pretty penny. 

Alternatively, you can choose a less prestigious tree or even a tree stump. But beware, corporations are now buying up forests to charge for afterlife storage.

Here are a few innovative options to consider:

  1. Living Urn: This biodegradable urn mixes ashes with nutrients to grow a tree. A lovely way to keep Grandad’s memory alive, and, if in a large pot, is portable if you move home.
  2. Legend Urn: Similar in concept but also offers to incorporate ashes into jewelry and other keepsakes. 
  3. Capsula Mundi: A biodegradable pod, where ashes (or even the whole body) are placed, allowing a tree to grow from it.
Becoming A Tree In The Afterlife

In Scotland, you can scatter ashes almost anywhere with the landowner’s permission, but be mindful of the ecological impact. Golf courses and football grounds are understandably hesitant about becoming biohazards.

For more ideas here’s a site that offers different options. Ten years ago we were honoured to be given a teddy bear with the ashes of a really good friend inside. 

Ultimately, whatever you choose, plan thoughtfully. Your final resting place deserves as much consideration as the life that led you there.

Graeme Dinnen

Leave a Reply