How to Say Goodbye to a Tree

Hollow stump of a huge spruce tree that fell.

The remains of a huge, hollow spruce tree stump

It’s fun to get to know trees. It’s fun to climb in them, to sit near them and enjoy their shade. It’s fun to watch birds flit in and out of their branches and squirrels scamper along their trunks.

Just like people, trees eventually get old. Sometimes they get hollow inside. Then they could fall down and hurt people or houses or other buildings. When trees get that old, it’s time to cut them down. But that can be really hard. It’s like saying goodbye to an old and dear friend.

How do you say goodbye to a tree that has meant a lot to you after it has grown so old and hollow that it’s no longer safe?

Here are a few ideas. Take pictures of the tree. If you are a good artist, make a painting of the tree. If some of the bark or a dead branch has fallen off the tree, you could make something out of it. Carve a little figure out of the wood, or use some of the bits of bark and small pieces of wood or leaves to create a design. Glue the pieces of wood and leaves to a backing, perhaps cardboard or poster board. Then frame it and hang it on a wall in your house.

You could write a poem or a letter to the tree. In it, you could describe how much the tree has meant to you. Let it know it has been a good friend and that you will never forget it.

If this tree is in your yard, talk with your family about having a goodbye ceremony for the tree. Each of you can suggest ideas for things that could be part of the ceremony. During the ceremony, share your poem or letter or art work with others in your family. Let them share their creations with you. That can be a special way of helping to remember the tree.

An adult in your family will have to arrange for someone to cut down the tree in a way that is safe for everyone. It will be hard to see the tree cut down. You don’t have to watch it happen. When it is gone, it might make you sad to see the empty space where the tree once stood.

That is a good time to reread the poem or letter you wrote and to look at the art work you created. All those things will help you remember how special the tree was to you.

When it feels like the time is right, you and your family might want to plant a baby tree to grow in the space once occupied by the other tree. It can be fun to watch that tree grow bigger and take on its own special shape and size. It will never take the place of the other tree, but it can become one of your new tree friends.

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