· To create personal sacred garden spaces in memory of hospice patients in ways that can be enjoyed by family and friends through the years;
· To involve family and friends in the process of creating the garden in ways that foster healing.
Hospices sometimes struggle to support families through their grieving process over time. It is our experience that providing a sacred garden space in Nature gives families and friends a safe place to go to grieve – and to celebrate their loved one. Memory Gardens evoke the best feelings about loved ones in the healing context of Nature.
Each person, each family, each garden is unique. Our process acknowledges and celebrates that. Memory Gardens may be small or large, simple or ornate. The idea is to tell the story of the patient using objects and plants which each evoke memories of the patient and family, and to create new commemorative objects.
Creating and funding Memory Garden projects can be shared by the patient, the family, and hospice. Friends may also want to contribute time or money. In some cases, retail and wholesale providers of plants, garden objects, materials and supplies may be solicited for donations.
Roger will coach hospice staff to set up the Memory Garden process with patients and their families, and will work with everyone involved to understand the process of designing and building each Memory Garden.
Beginning with a meeting with hospice staff to understand the needs of individual patients and their families and the possible scope of work, as well as funding and other issues, Roger will interface with hospice staff throughout each project.
Each Memory Garden is dedicated by ceremony and celebration. This commemoration may be facilitated by the hospice chaplain, by Roger, or by a family member. Everyone is encouraged to look for ways to involve the family before, during, and after each project.
Memory Garden Programs offer hospices an interesting distinction – a kind of living legacy and ongoing family support. Results can be promoted in pictures and testimonials. The program can be augmented by volunteers and community involvement.
Rough process steps
1. Hospice staff member recommends client and family to Roger
2. Roger meets with hospice staff to review each project. We exchange information about the patient, family, and proposed project; learn about patient and family limitations; brainstorm and consider ideas; agree on an action plan; and set up the initial meeting with appropriate family group.
3. Interview – conversation with patient and family – including what a garden might contain, where it might be located, and how it might be designed and built, and maintained. Questions and concerns are discussed and we create a tentative plan and an agreement, and set out next steps.
4. Roger visits site and completes rough design.
6. Design and installation plan reviewed by patient, family, and hospice staff.
7. Meeting with selected patient, family, and staff – including a review of the final design, establishing an action plan and schedule, considering costs, roughing out a consecration ceremony, and signing an agreement.
8. Roger and clients collect plants, objects, supplies and material
9. Work completed on site as agreed
10. Consecration ceremony – celebration
11. Follow up
12. Gather testimonials
For ideas, see my Pinterest page.
Roger is a trained hospice volunteer and ordained nondenominational minister. His background includes extensive experience in volunteer program development and leadership, landscape design and construction, work with elderly, and personal coaching and healing. Memory Garden Programs represent the culmination of his years of helping people connect with Nature to create better gardens, heal, and find God.