Memorializing a pet is a regular topic of conversation here on the blog, and in this post, family therapist Laurel Lagoni from Vet Wisdom Cafe shares a great idea for one way to keep our memories of our loved pets alive:
Planting a Tree In Memoriam
“I’m confused about what to do now with my dog’s ashes. He was cremated and I received his remains a couple of weeks ago. I don’t really want to keep them, but I also don’t want to scatter them around and then have nowhere that I can “visit” him. Help! What do other people do?”
-excerpted from a conversation with a pet parent
This is a common dilemma for pet parents as there aren’t as many rules and customs for pet cremains as there are for human cremains. Here’s one idea from a wonderful, little book by Daniel Butler called How to Plant a Tree: A Simple Celebration of Trees and Tree-Planting Ceremonies.
According to Butler, people have always enjoyed a close relationship with trees. They provide food, shelter, protection, and enjoyment. And, when planted with purpose, trees can provide meaning and comfort for years and years. Here’s what Mr. Butler suggests for an In Memoriam ceremony combining a loved one’s cremains and a tree planting.
The ashes of our loved ones, Butler says, contain minerals like carbon and potassium. When we line a pit with these ashes, the “physical essence of a person will be incorporated into the cells of a tree” that is planted there and can actually live on within that tree.
Butler suggests you match the personality of your loved one (pet or person) with the characteristics of a tree. For instance, you might choose an olive tree for a person who loved to cook or an evergreen to symbolize a pet’s constant companionship and devotion. If you live in an apartment, you might try this with an indoor tree like a ficus or Norfolk pine.
What do you think of this idea? Has anyone planted a tree in memory of a pet?
–Laurel Lagoni, www.vetwisdomcafe.com
Laurel Lagoni, M.S., is the former Director of the Argus Institute for Families and Veterinary Medicine at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University. She is the current Director of the Veterinary Wisdom® Support Center and President/CEO of World by the Tail, Inc – www.veterinarywisdom.com.
Dr V’s tree in honor of Mulan: I picked it because the leaves reminded me of her ears.