You deserve a beautiful final resting place. One where friends and family can visit and honor you. Having a physical place for our loved ones to visit can bring a sense of immense comfort, peace, even beauty. At Better Place Forests, you choose a memorial tree, where your ashes will be spread after you pass. To protect and nourish the forest, we neutralize ashes by mixing them with local soil from the base of the tree — continuing the cycle of life. Our forests are then maintained, cared for, and legally and permanently protected so you will always have a special place on earth.
What makes a memorial with Better Place Forests unique?
The majority of Americans will choose cremation, but what do you do with the ashes afterward? Cremation ashes can be made into keepsake jewelry, infused into a tattoo, or scattered in a significant place. Many people choose to scatter ashes to commune with nature while saying goodbye. But many instances of ash scattering is that it's over in a moment — it’s fleeting. Traditional ash scattering options often leave you without a final resting place and don't provide your loved ones the opportunity to have a proper ceremony or a place to visit afterward. And due to the harmful effects that ashes may have on the environment if not mixed properly, scattering is illegal in many places.
Spreading ashes with Better Place Forests is an environmentally-friendly and sustainable option that provides your loved ones with a sense of place –– a legally protected place your loved ones can continue to visit. Mourners are still able to connect with nature, but without harming it. In our conservation memorial forests, your final resting place can be a private tree in a well-maintained and protected environment. Each of our packages comes with a spreading ceremony. When you pass, the ash spreading ceremony allows your family to gather to celebrate your life while you return to the earth.
We know that end-of-life planning is a big decision. To help you, we’ve outlined the process of an ash-spreading ceremony with Better Place Forests and what makes our process unique. Our forest memorial team is here to help you each step of the way.
Planning your ash spreading ceremony
We understand that planning your forest memorial is an emotional decision. At whatever stage of planning you or your loved ones come to us, our forest memorial specialists will help you choose the best memorial package for you.
Our mission is to help everyone leave a meaningful legacy. We know that ceremonies not only play a significant part in creating your legacy, they also serve as lasting memories for your family and loved ones. We’re happy to accommodate any religious or spiritual practices. You’re welcome to bring your own officiant or include a significant ritual. If you’ve served in the military, we welcome you to include guards of honor, the playing of “Taps”, or other military funeral proceedings you may want. Our recommended ceremony readings can always be replaced with something that speaks to you — like a personal letter, poem, or song. Our forest memorial specialists will help you create a personal and unique ceremony as part of your legacy.
To make sure that no detail is missed, we recommend that you (or your loved ones) begin planning your ash spreading ceremony at least six weeks in advance. This allows time to plan a meaningful ceremony and coordinate travel for the people that matter most.
To provide your family with privacy and solitude, we close the forest to all visitors for two hours during each ceremony. This gives mourners time to explore the forest and celebrate your life — undisturbed. At this time, we can accommodate ten guests during each forest memorial. Unlike scattering ashes in a random place, our forests are permanently protected and legal — so your memorial place will always be there, even when you’re not.
Once you’ve planned your ceremony, it’s time to prepare for your arrival in the forest. Our forest stewards will be ready and waiting to accommodate your family’s needs.
What to expect when arriving at the forest
When you first arrive at one of our forests, you’ll be greeted by our forest stewards at the visitor center. Our visitor centers are an extension of our forests and have been designed to create a natural and open experience. To ensure you’re comfortable during your visit, all of our forests include parking, restrooms, and drinking water. From the visitors center, you will be taken to the memorial ceremonies table where your forest steward will mix your ashes with soil from the base of the chosen memorial tree.
Local soil must be mixed with the cremation ashes to neutralize the pH of the ashes. Without doing this, ash spreading can be harmful to the forest ecosystem. Our ash mixing method ensures that returning to the earth is beneficial for both the departed and the memorial forest. Once the forest steward has combined the ashes and soil, friends and family are invited to help mix the ashes. Throughout the ceremony, guests are allowed to be as involved or uninvolved with the process as they’d like.
The following describes our general ceremony proceedings, but customizations are always welcome. Our forest memorial specialists will help you create the ideal ceremony for you and your family.
A return to the Earth: the spreading ceremony
After mixing your cremation ashes with the soil from the base of your tree, a forest steward will guide your family to your memorial tree. This is where the ceremony will take place. When you arrive at the tree, a forest steward will begin the ceremony with opening words. If you’d like to bring an officiant, you are more than welcome to do so. We offer a collection of memorial readings that can be read during the ceremony, or if you want something more personal, you are free to choose your own words. We invite you to add anything to the ceremony that is meaningful to you or your family.
When it’s time, the forest steward will begin spreading your ashes at the base of your tree. Family members are encouraged to participate if they'd like. This moment is a beautiful way for friends and family to say goodbye while you return to the earth –– a true "ashes to ashes" moment. Once all of the ashes have been spread, family members are given native wildflower seeds to place at the base of the tree — creating a new cycle of life while completing another.
To close the ceremony, the forest steward will do another reading and allow the family to give any closing words. Sometimes mourners choose to read poems or letters, tell stories, dance, or sing. Your ash spreading ceremony is yours, and we’re happy to accommodate anything that will make it meaningful for you.
We welcome our community back
After the ceremony has come and gone, friends and family are more than welcome to return to the forest to pay their respects, enjoy the trails, or enjoy a picnic. We love to see our customers and love reconnecting with our community. We do ask that you make an appointment for your return visits, as we close the forest for each forest memorial to ensure privacy. Our forest stewards do an excellent job of accommodating return visits, so if the calendar seems full, still reach out to the specific forest team to inquire about availability.
When we shy away from end-of-life planning, the decision lands on our loved ones during a time of mourning. Planning your legacy allows you to leave the earth better — for those that survive you. Book a forest tour with one of our advisors to get started picking your tree.