How to break the news?

This morning while the kids were all at school, I took the dog for a walk.  It’s warm and mild, and trees are bursting with leaves and blooms.  Suddenly at a familiar corner I was jolted by this discovery.


This was my daughter’s “favorite tree,”  and appeared in my opening blog post just over a year ago. Part of me wants to avoid showing her this scene to protect her from the loss.  However it’s inevitable she’ll notice it some day, so it’s best to think about supporting her through this.

When I came upon this scene a neighbor was walking by and I pointed it out to her, explaining my daughter’s feelings for this tree.  She responded with her own story of making a visit to her elderly father back east and noticing the cutting and removal of a landmark tree, well-remembered from childhood visits, planted on a corner that to her signified home.  This happened on the day her father was transferred out from his home due to declining health at the very end of his life.  I asked her how it felt to see the tree being cut.  She replied, “It felt like part of me had died.”

Life is full of change, unexpected losses and new gifts.  Fortunately for me and for my daughter, we share a passion for planting trees and have enjoyed volunteering with Friends of Trees in that effort.  And of course we’ll continue to do so.


Combined with her natural desire to find a positive outcome, I think these experiences have already built a schema for her which give perspective.  Seeing these three paint marks on the curb next to the tree’s remaining stump gives me a sense of hope.


My wish is for Naomi to find comfort in these little white paint marks too as she says good-bye to her friend.


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5 Responses to How to break the news?

  1. Julie, I am sorry to hear about the loss of this tree, your daughter’s favorite. One of the reasons I founded Friends of Trees in 1989 was to offer a way for people to transform their grief over the destruction of trees and other natural beings into positive, life-affirming action instead of having it get stuck as bitterness, cynicism, and despair. Some of the early FOT leaders, such as Beth Stout and Nyta Hannaford, got involved with Friends of Trees following tree-cutting debacles on their blocks. Good luck figuring out how to broach this news with your daughter. Thanks for the Portland Tree Tour! I always enjoying getting it.

    • Thank you so much for your comforting words, Richard. I’m glad you are reading my blog. FOT has offered so many rewards to so many people and for our city, and has had a huge impact on my life. Trees give us beauty and clean air, but ultimately healing and transformation as well.

  2. Julie Fukuda says:

    When Miki-san’s house was torn down, the destruction people came first with chain saws and ripped through the garden,cutting all those friends at waist height. It was almost unbearable.
    I know if our house should go. the strip with the Plum and Maples would meet the same fate..
    We sure could use some Friends Of Trees here in Tokyo. Thanks for carrying on the Fukuda legacy and give Naomi a hug from Grandma.

  3. My first tree loss was at the hands of my parents (a HUGE weeping willow in our front yard). While they explained why, and I pretended to understand, I think a certain disdain for the practical mind (at least where plants are concerned) was created in me on that day.

  4. annamadeit says:

    This first little house we bought was on a triangular rather large lot with two gigantic oak trees framing a view of a field. I’m guessing they were around 250 years old. I would sit at the table and see the deer graze, or admire the morning fog over the field through this view frame. We sold the house, moved to the US, and years later on a whim, I looked the house up on Google Maps. The oaks were gone! It was as if someone had punched me! The emotional power of trees can be immense. I’m still heartbroken over their demise…

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