July 31, 2016 is National Tree Day in Australia.
While planting a tree has enormous benefits to the environment and our health, planting a tree in memory of a lost loved one can help the grieving process.
In Perth we have the avenues of trees in Kings Park commemorating fallen servicemen and women in wars, most cemeteries have trees where name plaques can be placed. There are groves of trees around Western Australia that have been planted in memory of lost loved ones. In the wider world, there are memorial trees planted at the site of the World Trade Centre. Many cultures have rituals around grief and trees.
What is it about trees that make them so popular as a memorial?
They are living – and most are long lived too.
They represent the continuation of life and love, even after death.
Where they are planted becomes a place to remember and grieve, especially if the tree chosen triggers significant memories of your loved one.
And some trees show seasonal changes which can be symbolic of the way life changes and continues in cycles.
For myself , I don’t have a specific memorial tree for Rhiannon. I do have a potted shrub called Leptospermum ‘Rhiannon’, which I love. But I find so much comfort in trees. Being around them helped when my grief was at its rawest, and still helps me now.
I love the Karri trees surrounding the cemetery in Pemberton where Rhiannon is buried. And that love has extended to all Karri trees now.
It feels like they watch over the resting place of my little girl, and that of the others that have been buried there for so long. They have seen my tears, and the tears of those that visit.
Is it silly of me to feel that they extend comfort and understanding toward me, that it feels like I am lovingly surrounded and protected?
There is ancient magic and wisdom in those trees I’m sure.
I love that they are long lived and majestic.
They are deeply rooted in the earth, uniquely suited to where they grow, strong straight trunks and graceful branches stretching upwards and outwards to the endless sky.
They represent to me certainty and a sense of place.
A continuation of life and growth, and limitless possibilities while being grounded and able to stand strong.
In this I find so much comfort and peace.