The forests of memories, an alternative to cemeteries and ash dispersal
Nowadays, funeral rites are undergoing rapid change: some traditions are being abandoned because they are now meaningless or seem to come from another era. In this way, new rituals are emerging, notably the “forests of memories”.
These forests of memories allow the ashes of the deceased to be buried at the foot of a tree of one’s choice. An “official” forest would offer a safe setting and a close connection with nature. They are an alternative to cemeteries or the dispersal of ashes because they provide the relatives of the deceased with a place of physical recollection devoid of religious connotations.
This concept was first developed in Germany in the 19th century, then in Switzerland. Today, there are several such places, mainly in German-speaking Switzerland. In French-speaking Switzerland, only one has been created for the moment: the Forest of Remembrance provided by the bourgeoisie of Glovelier in the Jura. However, in Geneva, the socialist elected representative Olga Baranova has tabled a motion for the city to create such a space.
There is something magical about coming to gather in a space where life surronds us because nature grows continuously and daily. Many people see it as a therapeutic way of mourning. This is what we call “comforting nature”.
To know more about it, read this article (in French only).