A memorial garden can be a living connection to a lost loved one.
A Place of Remembrance
“Her absence is like the sky – spread over everything.”- C.S. Lewis, upon the death of his wife.
Loss is universal. The grief that comes with the loss of a loved one is universal and the overwhelming sense of that loss is the one emotion that all human beings are guaranteed to feel during their lifetime.
The world is weeping
We have seen an unprecedented level of global loss and grief in these past two years. The world was forced to remain apart in a time when human connection was more important than ever. Society remained apart for the sake of each other. A part of what has made the Covid-19 pandemic so cruel is the fact that even in grief we could not be united. We had to mourn in isolation.
Humanity had to adapt its death rituals to fit into certain allowable parameters and many families across the globe have been unable to find the necessary closure through traditional grieving practices. If we look back through history, there has been another time when the entire world was plunged into despair by death. The combined death toll of the first and second world wars was approximately 90 million people.
Needless to say, the world was shattered by grief during this time. Communities established private and public memorial gardens as a way of coping with the loss and coming to terms with it. Many of these gardens of remembrance can still be visited today. Memorial gardens form an enduring symbol of love but also hope through even the darkest of times. Some are large and imposing, consisting of intricately laid out formal gardens. Others are as simple and down to earth as a plaque affixed to a tree.
Healing the heartache
Planting a memorial garden can help you to come to terms with the pain of losing a loved one. It also allows you to have a sensible outlet for your emotions. This endeavour need not be large, expensive, or imposing. Take a moment to reflect on your loved one. Were they formal, pensive or traditional? Then a structured garden is a way to go. The garden might have clearly marked out paths and seating, neatly trimmed borders and traditional plants. If, however, your loved one was more of a free spirit why not sow wildflower seeds on a patch of grass and create a remembrance meadow?
Things to take into account:
• Available space and budget.
• Loved one’s favourite type of plant, colour, feature, or element.
• An area for reflection. Will it be a walkway or a bench?
• A feature element like a statue, a plaque, a large tree or a water feature.
• If you share your grief with others, consider making the garden a group effort.
• Working together to commemorate a loved one can bring those who have been left behind closer to each other, finding peace in their shared emotion.
Is space a problem?
Your place of remembrance doesn’t have to be very big. For a small area, think about planting a single rose tree, climbing jasmine, or a fruit tree. Anything can remind you of your loved one, but also bring hope through new growth. It might be that you don’t have any open space to plant a garden, but you can still find solace in nature. The forget-me-not is a wonderful little flower. It reseeds itself season after season and can withstand most climates. Forget-me-nots don’t ask for much. This beautiful blue flower grows well in damp, shady areas but can adapt to brighter sunlight and will provide endless joy through its delicate blooms.
Remember that your memorial garden is just that – YOURS. Just as there is no right or wrong way to express your grief, there is no wrong way to plant your memorial.