A memorial garden can be a long-lasting, positive way to memorialize your baby after a pregnancy loss.
There are a lot of benefits to a memorial garden:
- It’s an active, creative task that can engage many parts of your mind and body in a positive way while you are grieving
- A garden can be highly personalized to reflect you, your partner, and your baby
- Gardens can be changed over time to reflect your changing feelings
- Having a memorial garden in your own yard will allow you to connect with your baby’s memory regularly and on your own schedule
- Other friends and family members can help you establish and maintain your garden, or simply visit it when they want to be close to you and your baby
If you’ve decided that a memorial garden is something you’re interested in, you’ll want to do a little planning and research. Maybe you’ve got a friend with a green thumb who can help you out. You can also visit your local garden center. Also, check out gardening websites for helpful information and ideas.
There are several factors to consider:
What will grow best in your area? There are certain zones where flowers grow best. Most seed packets are labeled with the appropriate zone and a map. Your garden center should also be able to help you select the right plants for your region.
Do you want your garden to come back on its own each year, or require new plantings each year? Some flowers and plants will continue to grow year after year, while others are only good for one season. You may want to consider a balance of both kinds of plantings so you can add variety every year, but also look forward to some flowers blooming on their own.
What flowers should you choose? This is where the creative aspect of gardening comes in. There are so many kinds of plants and flowers to choose from. It can be daunting at first. There are a few easy ways to narrow it down.
- Time of year you’d most like your flowers to bloom – If you would like to see your garden in bloom at a special time of year, perhaps the season when your baby died, then certain flowers will be better choice. For example, tulips and crocuses bloom in spring.
- Color – If you knew your baby’s gender, you might want to select pink or blue flowers to signify a boy or a girl. Perhaps you have other significant colors that remind you of your pregnancy, your baby, or the nursery you’d planned.
- Significant meanings – The Victorians assigned special meanings to many kinds of flowers, and florists today still use many of them. You can browse a list of flower meanings, use flowers that share your baby’s name if possible (e.g. Rose, Lily, William, or Heather), or any flowers with special meaning in your own life.
- Personal taste – Of course your taste will affect your choices. Don’t be afraid to let your own likes and dislikes guide your choices. After all, no one was closer to your baby than you. You’ll know what to choose.
How much room do you have? There are no rules about how big a memorial garden has to be. It can be a single, specially chosen tree, a single houseplant, if you live an an apartment building, or a large, elaborate garden.
Do you want to take your garden with you if you move? If you aren’t in a permanent resident, you can still set up a small garden in containers in your yard, or indoors if necessary. Even if you think you’re in your house for the rest of your life, there could come a time you have to move or want to relocate your garden. If that happens, don’t stress about it! You can always take any significant items with you and start fresh in a new place. It might be enjoyable to spend some quality time with your baby’s memory in a new place.
What else goes in a memorial garden? You may want to choose a focal point, like a stepping stone, statue (an angel is a common selection), water feature, stone or wooden cross, or tree.
Other items that could be added to your garden:
- Birdbath or birdfeeder
- A bench or other place to rest
- A hammock
- Tibetan prayer flags
- Laterns or other lights
No matter how you decide to start your memorial garden, take the time to reflect on your baby while you do the work of planning and planting. The experience could be very emotional at times, but it should be positive in the end. Any way of expressing your feelings will help with your healing process, and at the end of your hard work, you’ll have a lovely memorial garden to enjoy for months and years to come.