M: MEMORY GARDENS
Planting a Memory Garden is a very special tribute to honor the memories of a loved one, or loved ones. It is a way to have a living reminder, where seeing the plant, tending to it and enjoying the beauty of flowers or fragrance brings your loved ones to mind.
Your Memory Garden can be anything you want it to be. It can be as simple as one plant or one stepping stone to honor someone’s memory. It may be a small corner with a few plants and possibly a piece of statuary. It can also be a more elaborate, full-blown garden with many plants, possibly a winding path and perhaps a small bench or seating area to sit and reflect. Your garden can be any size you wish it to be, according to the space and land you have available, and the number of plants you wish to maintain.
A Memory Garden can be a place of solace, a place to remember and heal. It is a gift you give yourself, a living legacy of memories and love.
A memory garden is just that, a place to recognize and honor memories – the memories of our loved ones.
A garden is a living memorial for us, the living. It does not bring them back. It does not remove our pain or grief, although for many it does help soothe and soften the grieving.
The planning, the gardening, the caring for living plants nurtures our souls; it is a way for us to say — Here. I place this plant, or this stepping stone, or this statuary, in your honor and memory. It is a symbol. It is a symbol of my love for you. I cherished you in my life. I miss you. I will remember you.
I believe they see our tributes. I am a firm believer in the afterlife, and that our loved ones still know what is happening in our lives. I have too many unexplained coincidences in my own life and experiences that confirms it for me. Does it help to believe my brother is here, that he is sending a message, that he is still involved in my life, yet I can’t see him? Some days, yes! It is comforting. Some days, absolutely NO! I want to see him, I want to give him a hug, I want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. But I can’t do that. And sometimes I still get angry about that.
Grief is not a static emotion. It is not a one-way path. We do not walk the pathway of grief, one step at a time, to the end, where we reach ‘non-grief’. We waver. We’re back and forth. Some days we’re good. Sometimes we drift along towards healing. We go on and live our lives. (We have to. We have no choice.) And other days, there will be one memory, one song, one fragrance, one thought – and we are suddenly back to a painful place that we thought we’d left behind.
Just remember this, on the path of grieving NO ONE’S path is the same! None of us will have a journey exactly like another’s. Don’t let anyone tell you what’s ‘normal’, or what’s ‘not normal’. Follow your own heart. Follow your own healing.
Yes, go on living. Definitely do so, as we are still alive. But we can do that while keeping the memories sacred and honored.
I take comfort in the actions of caring for zinnias, believing that my brother will know that when I tend to them, I’m thinking of him. When I tend to the red rose, I’m thinking of Grandma Jones. When I clip the carnations, I’m thinking of Grandpa Jones.
For many years, families were the caretakers of loved one’s gravesites. The whole day was spent there, often with picnics. A celebration was created around the loving care of the final resting places. Nowadays, some people still do this, but not many. I loved to take flowers to the graves of loved ones at Christmas. Now, I’m too far from any of them to be able to do that. So tending the plants in my backyard is a way of making that connection. That is something I can do every day, not just on holidays and honoring special dates.
Why plant a memory garden? For our own healing. For our own souls. For a tribute to the ones we loved that no longer walk this earthly planet with us.
Many plants have symbolic meanings attached to them, such as Rosemary for Remembrance. Plants with these symbolic meanings can hold great significance in a memory garden.
A few other plants with special memorial meanings are:
Honeysuckle, Bonds of Love
Iris, A Message
Lemon Balm, Sympathy
Blue salvia, I think of you.
For a full list of the meanings of different plants, including herbs, flowers and trees, check out The Old Farmer’s Almanac page.