Memorial Trees: Interview With a Vendor

April 17, 2018, 11 a.m.

This month we spoke to our vendor Marko Dakin from Memorial Trees about the beauty of memorial and remembrance...and how families can celebrate their loved ones with a personal lasting tribute.

First of all, talk us through what exactly Memorial Trees are?

Memorial Trees are COR-TEN weathering steel group memorials for outside memorial places such as a crematorium garden of remembrance, cemeteries and burial grounds.​

So, how did you come up with idea? Any specific inspirations?

​The inspiration came from ceramicist and artist Jose Visser, wife of our director Diederik. Jose had been a ceramicist for many years and had some contact in the funeral industry making urns and also some commissions ​for ceramic memorials, like the beautiful water lily pond at Akendam cemetery in Haarlem, Netherlands.

In 2015 Jose was asked by Walpot Crematorium, near Maastricht in the south of the country, to come up with a new concept for their ash scattering lawn in the gardens. And hey presto, a few months later Jose came back with this concept and Memorial Trees were born.

Where can Memorial Trees / Leaves be used? Where are they used at the moment?​

We currently have 10 large trees installed in cemeteries and crematorium gardens here in The Netherlands and one in Belgium. We also just received a purchase order from City of Lincoln Council and are really excited to be installing our first large UK memorial tree​ next month (May 2018). We also have 3 of the smaller 120cm memorial trees installed - two here in The Netherlands and one at Lakelands Crematorium in Co. Cavan, Ireland.

What are your most popular items?​

The large 320cm trees and the smaller 120cm Trees are also proving popular as individual grave markers, something to put in the garden at home to remember the deceased or just as a work of art the 60cm version. This size tree does not have the option of memorial leaves though.

What are the advantages of Memorial Trees? What makes them so different to regular memorial plaques?​

A memorial tree is a thing of beauty. As a group memorial for up to 600 people, it is a great option for crematoriums and cemeteries in cities that are short of space.

Another exciting thing is that the trees offer a very affordable option fpr families and loved ones of the deceased to ​have a memorial. Traditionally we have buried the dead in graves...things have changed dramatically in the last 30 years.

Here in the Netherlands over 70% of deaths are cremations. However there is still a desire by the bereaved to have some kind of memorial and somewhere to go and remember. Traditionally this has been done via urn walls, plaques and columbariums. Our Memorial Trees are a new addition to this tradition.

So, Memorial Trees are an updated version of traditional ways to remember loved ones. Why does the concept of ‘memorial’ still remain so important to families and friends?​

I'm not sure why its so important and I think that it could be for a variety of different reasons - particularly to the families and loved ones of the deceased.

Partially it’s to do with our European Christian tradition of burying the dead and marking the grave with a headstone. It’s also partially to do with our tradition, and I think a need, to hold on to memories​ of the people we've lost, to celebrate their lives and to pay respect.

There are a whole host of reasons - I think the why's of it are not so just is important...and this is what the majority of the public want.

A memorial leaf engraved with the name, date of birth and date of death placed in a memorial tree places the name and associated memories of that person into something physical as a lasting memory.

We all know death is an inevitable part of do you think we can make the concept of death a more positive experience?

That's a great question...I certainly don't think there are any rights and wrongs on this one. For me, death should be a celebration of life​ and I feel strongly that memories should be artistic and reflect the beauty of life. Trees across all cultures are celebrated as being something life-giving. So memories and memorialisation should be beautiful!

How would you like to be remembered and celebrated when you die?​

I don't think I'm going to be remembered outside my circle of family and friends​ which is what will happen for the vast majority of us. I'm also very concerned by environmental issues. So, a cremation in a cardboard box, a simple ceremony and good party with the wine flowing and plenty of laughter...and of course a memorial leaf in a memorial tree here in the Netherlands which I have called home for the last 20 years and one in the land of my birth, the UK.

Important question: what song would you like at your funeral and why?​

Well here's the thing - when I'm gone, I'm gone. Funerals to me are for the people left behind, to mourn and celebrate the life of the I would leave that up to whoever arranges my funeral! I would hope they choose something that reflects my personality​, so it could be anything....perhaps even a dance track!

What are Memorial Trees’ plans for the future? Any potential to ‘branch out’ (excuse the terrible pun) to things such as steel flowers? ​

Yes, lots of plans! We recently installed a special golden tree with perspex leaves in the colours of the rainbow in the children's area of a cemetery near Rotterdam. It’s such a terrible thing to lose a child. The golden trees have been received incredibly well. We plan to market the golden tree concept more.

We are also busy developing our products for international markets. We have just completed a new design for memorial trees for Australia, inspired by their native gum trees.

No steel flowers yet...but we have developed a concept based on the love lock bridge in Paris and last year we modelled a memorial fence at a crematorium close to Amsterdam where the crematorium offers, as part of its cremation package, the option to have an individually engraved memorial padlock placed on the fence. So we can also offer individually engraved memorial locks as well as memorial leaves to customers. Our overall goal is for memorials to be beautiful and provide a moving and lasting memory of the deceased.

Intrigued by these beautiful Memorial Tree leaves? why not add them to your huunuu funeral plan?

Haven’t made a plan with huunuu yet? Head to our sign up page and explore all products - it’s here you’ll find Memorial Trees, as well as hundreds of other vendors to help personalise your send-off. You can even create your own ideas and, if possible, we’ll find the perfect vendor!

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