Monday 23 October 2017

Brits will soon be able to grow a tree from their loved one's ashes

By Taylor Heyman

Will the idea take off in the UK?

You can now grow a tree from the ashes of your cremated loved ones.

The Living Urn is a sapling tree delivered in the post with a specialised urn from which to grow it using ashes. The idea it your loved one becomes a part of the tree, leaving a living legacy for years to come.

One of the founders of Living Urn, Mark Brewer, told us he developed the idea with two of his childhood friends after attending a memorial of their friend’s father at school.

“They planted a tree in his memory, and there was a ceremony and it was really beautiful. To this day that tree remains, and that stuck with us.”

The founders took the idea of a memorial tree and took it one step further to incorporate the ashes of the deceased. They worked with soil experts and arborists over a year-and-a-half to hone the product, which has been on sale in the US for 19 months.

Customers can purchase the urn and tree for their human and pet loved ones starting at a cost of $135. The company also runs a fund for those who can’t afford to pay for the memorial.

The company plans to bring the Living Urn to the UK by summer this year.

So how does it work?

You or your funeral home type in the postcode for the area you wish to plant your tree on the Living Urn website and it will recommend up to 20 trees suited for the environment.

It will then dispatch you a seedling tree and kit. You or your funeral home can then use the ashes with a soil, woodchips and ash neutralising agent.

The tree can be planted in a large pot or straight into the ground.

What if things go wrong?

Whether taking care of your pet or a human loved one, the most obvious danger of the Living Urn idea is that the tree could die, exacerbating your grief.

Brewer explains that the team took great care in developing the system, which uses saplings rather than seeds to ensure the tree has the best chance at life.

According to Brewer a common issue is over-care of the tree by over watering, which is why ongoing customer service is important. “We don’t want to sell a product and then give it to people when they’ve lost a loved one and not be there for them,” he says.

“If there is ever an issue, we can get our arborists on the phone with them to help.”

Do people really want to grow trees with ashes?

The market for this type of memorial is growing in the US, as more people opt for cremation over burial. Statistics from the Cremation Society of Great Britain show 75% of people are cremated currently.

A YouGov poll of 1,546 people in August 2016 found 79% of those in favour of cremation want their ashes to be scattered

The Living Urn is due to come to the UK this summer, with a local partner to provide trees and local customer service. As it currently does in the US, for every urn purchased, the company will plant another tree in a UK forest.

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