AURAY - The choice of one's "final resting place" has long been divided between the geographical certainty of cemeteries and mausoleums, and the scattering of ashes into the wind...or having them follow travel along in an urn.
But in western France there's a new option for that eternal farewell that may offer the best of all worlds: called a Memory Garden, this vast plot of land in the Morbihan region, on the banks of the Bono river is a unique place where ashes can be buried under a tree.
Since 2007, it is forbidden in France to scatter human remains. This gave Lionel Le Maguer his business idea: a majority of people just didnt know what to do with their funeral urn, he recalled.
So he imagined a place that wouldnt be depressing, where you could lay the ashes. Ashes are buried here in a biodegradable funeral urn, under a tree. These trees cost from 3000 to 4500 euros, depending on the kind of tree. In this unusual graveyard, families of the deceased come to do some gardening or to have a chat, while they are visiting their loved ones' remains.
400 inhabitants, as Lionel Le Maguer calls them, currently rest under these remembrance trees, with some 12,000 more expected over the coming years. According to this former real estate agent, the human side has to remain at the core of the project. This place should not be confused with a park, he explains.
The place is secular, but everyone has the freedom to decorate their tree as they see fit, some, but not most, include religious symbols. In mourning, people do not need to engage in private prayer, they need to start over, to rebuild themselves.
Says Michelle, whose mother is buried here: "This is really different from a cemetery. It is a magical and warm place, not a sad one.
Read the full story in French. Original article by Anne Royer
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations