Plant a tree in memory of someone who has passed on and it will be there for hundreds of years, giving pleasure to everyone who sees it. You can plant a tree, or pay to have a tree planted, in memory of someone's life instead of sending flowers in sympathy.

Why do mourners send flowers at a funeral? Is it, perhaps, like a sympathy card, proof that you care? A cartload of flowers does not provide much consolation to the bereaved. Sending flowers in memory of someone who has passed away is a very short-lived in-memoriam gift.

Increasingly the bereaved will tell mourners, 'No flowers please'. The thousands of dollars worth of flowers at most funerals and cremations are only seen for one hour, and nobody is in any emotional state to take pleasure from looking at them. A frequent suggestion to mourners is to make a donation to a particular charity, which would make good use of the gifts. This is obviously a sensible and worthwhile alternative to giving flowers.

Another alternative would be for each mourner to plant a tree in memory of the person who has passed away.

If every mourner planted a tree in memory of the deceased there would be a large wood planted to celebrate that person's life, which would give thousands of people pleasure for a hundred years or more, given that most trees live for two hundred years.

Imagine the number of children's lives that would be enhanced by playing in the wood. Imagine the number of strollers whose spirits that would be lifted by walking through the trees. Imagine the calm of glades in the wood for generations of courting couples and dreaming poets.

All of these things would be possible because mourners planted long-lived trees in memory of the deceased, rather than token bouquets of flowers that will wither within a week.

How could anyone seriously compare the pleasure to be gained from planting trees to the dubious, ill-timed consolation to be had from bouquets of flowers?

The planting of trees in memory of those who have passed on takes place on several levels.

There are those families that have a lot of land who plant trees in memory of family members who pass away. This is a wonderful idea, especially if your family are likely to stay in the same property for generations.

There are those who quietly go away and plant a tree in their own yard, to help them remember and think of the life of the person who has passed on.

There are those who prefer to give money to charities that will plant and nurture your tree on your behalf. The charity will give you a certificate with the name of the person in whose memory the tree is planted. The tree's planting certificate can then be passed on to the nearest relatives of the deceased.

The tree charity option is the only 'Gift of a Tree' option available to those who live in apartments or have yards that are too small to accommodate even a small tree. Whole forests have been planted by such generous gifts, forests that truly celebrate the lives of those who are no longer with us.

If you would like trees planted in your memory when you die, be sure to tell everyone and explain why this is how you want your life to be celebrated.