Make a beautiful memory garden

Make a beautiful memory garden

Dealing with loss is one of the hardest things we have to go through in life. Allowing yourself time to remember and cherish the memories of loved ones is crucial to the healing process

By Hari Alexander

Creating a memory garden is a beautiful and thoughtful way of honouring our loved ones

We tend to think of terms of public memorial gardens, but it can be very cathartic to make a memory garden at home in honour of a loved one who's died  
 
What are memory gardens?
 
A memory garden is a gesture of love - a space intended for you to go so you can experience happy memories of your loved one. A memory garden can be large or small.  You might want to plant a special tree in a corner of your garden or plant that meant a lot to your loved one. Or it could be that you create a pathway surrounded by flowers. Some people like a project, so putting in a small pond, fountain, arbour or even digging out some flower beds, can be a way of making a space where you can go to remember your loved one. 
 
How do memorial gardens help with the grieving process?
 
Grieving is a process and it can't be speeded up. Many people say they feel forced to hide their sadness because the pressure is on to be back to normal within a few weeks of a death. Creating a memory garden is an intensely personal and focused activity that can help over the many months of mourning we need to come to terms with a death.
 
Creating your own memory garden
 
Do what feels right for you. Planting a tree is helpful to people because as the tree grows, the more you can connect with your memories of the person you planted it for. But if you don't have much space, buy a container and plant some flowers that will bloom year on year - forget-me-nots, geraniums, daffodils will all flower year after year. If you know your loved one adored snow drops or primroses, plant some at the base of a tree you might already have in your garden. My father's mother loved forget-me-nots and he took some from her garden when she died and planted them in his garden. That was 30 years ago and those flowers are still flowering in spring, bringing him an ongoing sense of connection with his mother.
 
Location
 
If you can, it's good to find a nook that's private so you can go there and be alone with your thoughts. If there's space to put a seat, so much the better.
 
Flowers
 
Flowers in abundance can be restorative. So plant lots of daffodils or roses or forget me nots. An explosion of blooms each year can help you experience happy memories of your loved one.
 
Wreaths
 
We tend to use wreaths on the day of the funeral, but you might want to make a simple wreath yourself on the anniversary of your loved one's death to place in your memory garden, as wreaths make a lovely centrepiece.
 
Clara Wilson at specialist florist Funeral Flowers says while 'loss is always devastating, bringing some beauty back into your life can truly help. It's often the push we need to turn a page between painful memories and happy ones - we need to get to the place where we remember the ones we loved with fondness and joy, not suffering.'
 
Some people enjoy taking the time to make their own wreath, but it is not for everyone. So if you would like to place a pretty wreath in your memory garden but don't have time to make one yourself, the buying one from a professional funeral florist is a wonderful alternative.
 
Personal touches
 
Don't feel constrained, make the space as you want it. Make it beautiful, make it personal and make it yours.
 
 
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