Building your own memory garden

Michael Lail
Guest columnist

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to assist a beloved friend with some yard work. This was significant as she does not normally ask for help. 

Her husband passed away earlier this year and she has been struggling to maintain his standards, so there was special meaning in shaping up her lawn. It was a gorgeous day with the mountains in the background, leaves at their peak colors and a crisp, fall breeze. 

Trimming and cleaning along with others brought cheerful thoughts of the friend who was still here with me and of my friend who was with me in spirit. The best part of the day was the happiness on her face when we finished. 

I think the group of folks that worked out in the yard that day were all honoring the memory of her late husband as well as just enjoying the peacefulness of gardening.

On the recommendation of my Hospice grief counselor, I created a memory garden after my mom and aunt passed away in 2013. It’s a small, four feet by four feet, area in the back yard with plenty of sunshine. I started out by planting a few flowers which over the years have blossomed into many of their favorite flowers. 

Over time, I added a garden statue, memorial stone and an occasional garden flag.  There is a seating area close by that allows me to relax, meditate or listen to some of our favorite music while remembering the countless good times we had together. I also find it comforting to switch out the area as the weather changes which reminds me of the years my mom spent refreshing the house with decorations every season and holiday. 

Make your memory garden as small or big as you like to create a healing experience, not a chore. It could be a spot in the yard, a pot on the patio or a plant in the house.  

Choose plants, flowers or trees that have a special significance to you and your loved one. Choose their favorite colors and flowers that have a scent that brings back a happy memory. 

A bench offers a place to reflect and relax. A memorial plaque with information about their life, verses from your favorite poem or pictures add a soothing touch. 

As our lives continue to be busier, it seems there is never enough time to focus on our individual needs. 

Memory gardening allows you to produce something beautiful while relaxing with pleasant thoughts of loved ones who are around you with the growth of each new seed.