Just when we think that the bleakness of winter will never leave, we begin to spot snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils. Spring slowly unveils itself. We know that in just a few weeks the flower beds will start to bloom, the trees will be full of new buds and the birds will return to our yards. Spring is a time that many folks think about gardens.

Whether you are a master gardener or someone who putters around the flower beds, gardening can be a helpful tool for working through your grief and loss. Working with the earth is a great way to connect with nature, expend energy in a positive way, and create something beautiful.

A remembrance garden is a wonderful tribute for a deceased loved one. It's an undertaking that can be done individually or by the whole family. The garden becomes a quiet, relaxing retreat, a space for reflection and remembering. If you don't have space for a garden, you can be creative and place plants on a deck, porch patio, balcony or steps.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Decide on your budget. This will determine the size and type of garden decor. It can be as small as one bush or tree or as big as a baseball field.
  2. Choose plants that are suited to your area. If your area is shady, pick plants that are hardy in the shade. Your local gardening/landscape supplier will be helpful in selecting appropriate plants.
  3. ​Choose plants that have special meaning to your loved one, or that have colors or scents that evoke memories. Certain plants have certain meanings. For example, forget-me-nots stand for memories, rosemary means remembrance, and daisies suggest innocence.

There are many parallels between grief and gardening. We can learn to take care of ourselves as we take care of our gardens. We gain insight from planting, watering, pruning and watching plants grow. The gardener waits for the beauty of the bloom; the grieving anticipates the return of the beautiful memories. As one bereaved person exclaimed… "With gardening, there is always next year. There is always hope."