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Death and the Hemlock Tree

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Living through a death will forever change you. It is bound to happen. No one can go through what you have experienced without the death having a profound impact on the rest of your life.


As a funeral director, I had many conversations about death and life, endings and beginnings, grief, regret and legacies. Every person I conversed with shared with me how death had enlightened them in some way. This profound impact happened either at the death bed or days, weeks, months or years later. As I learned about their experiences, I realized that no matter the age of the living or the age of the dead, a change took place. Some experienced a philosophical or spiritual change, some a serious change, some had new discernment or learned new skill sets. Transformation took place in the life of the living and the death of their loved one was the catalyst. Out of that death grew something new.


In the Redwood Forest, the destruction of death offers opportunity for growth. A fallen redwood tree provides the exact conditions for new growth. On a fallen log, one will find new plant species growing in the rich substrate that is provided by the decaying wood. The tree that was destroyed becomes the fertile ground for growth. In this state, the death of the tree, brings forth a rich new environment, full of nutrients. The hemlock tree sprouts and grows using the nutrients of death. Hemlock trees have grown to become mature trees wrapping their roots around the fallen redwood.


Has the death you experienced provided a new environment for growth?


Part of the grieving process involves reflection and self-study. Have you experienced the profound in your life since the death of your loved one? Are you giving yourself permission to allow change to happen in your life? How has your outlook on life changed? Do you possess new skills that you never expected to have? Are you more spiritual or less spiritual? Do you find comfort in unexpected places? In the course of a day, do you appreciate the little things more? I encourage you to examine your life a bit closer; look for the changes. Discover the profound. Notice where the destruction of death has left fertile ground in your life. What will you allow to grow there?


What will be your hemlock tree? There is growth when you live with grief in life.

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