It’s five years since my mum died.
The fact that she chose a woodland burial rather than a traditional burial really upset me back in 2007. A gravestone is a substantial memorial. It’s a fixed landmark that will pay tribute to the person buried beneath it via its chiseled words for possibly centuries after everyone who knew its subject have passed on too.
An unmarked tree, surrounded by many others, lacks the same sense of reverence and permanence. I was scared that after a few years I wouldn’t be able to find my mum’s exact tree. How would I feel close to her when I visited if there was a chance that I was stood at someone else’s tree?
Funnily enough, if she’d have chosen cremation I don’t think I’d have felt the same way. A woodland burial just felt like an uncomfortable halfway house.
I’ve made it a habit to visit her tree every year on the anniversary of her death. I can’t be there this year as I’m out of the country, so I made the trip there a couple of days ago instead.
As I sat there, I realised that yes, I probably have stood at the wrong tree at least once, but I don’t mind at all. It’s not about a specific location or monument.
There’s beauty in life growing from death. It’s a reminder that despite the ego our humanity places upon us, making us believe that we’re masters of nature, in the end we’re just parts of nature ourselves. A woodland burial is a real statement of beauty, chosen in life but expressed in death.
Sitting in the sunshine, surrounded by the new life of the young trees in that field, I can celebrate her life with real positivity.
As with most things I disagreed with her about, my mum was right after all.