Grief is heart-wrenching, bringing up feelings that are difficult to process. There are healthy ways of dealing with grief, even though they may bring unwelcome thoughts and emotions. Learning how to deal with and process these feelings is an important part of your journey. Finding a way to ground ourselves during this time while searching for ways to reconnect with yourself, others, and the world around us can help you in moving forward.
Getting to a point where you can manage your grief in a healthier way requires action. Taking action can be a difficult process for a lot of people. There are many ways you can take action such as journaling or joining a support group for example. These are great options, but in this post, we are going to discuss how creating a sensory memorial garden can help you.
A sensory garden–also known as garden therapy–is a garden that is created to stimulate the senses in our body. Putting together a garden that benefits your sensory system creates an opportunity for a deeper experience and a restful place to start healing. A memorial garden is often created in remembrance of a loved one or pet that has passed and acts as a tribute to their life.
The goal of a sensory memorial garden is to help you work through your grief while focusing on one sense at a time. This sensory exercise is used often for dealing with anxiety and can help ground you, bring you into the moment, and connect deeper with yourself and your environment.
The sense of sight
Your garden can be a creative outlet to express yourself or to realize the memories of your beloved. Use your garden as a visual, mental, emotional, and physical space for your grief. You can use lights, plants, and colors to create a pleasing visual experience that brings you solace. When selecting flowers to include in your garden, consider some that are associated with grief and loss. Having symbolic flowers in your garden can help deepen the connection you have with the space you’ve created.
The sense of smell
The power of smell is quite mesmerizing. Including flowers in your garden that provide pleasing and relaxing scents–or that memorable scent of your beloved–can evoke memories or emotions. These smells can be a mix of subtle or strong smells to be experienced directly and indirectly. Aromatherapy can be used to help many issues but is commonly used to help ease pain, stress, and anxiety.
The sense of sound
Close your eyes and open your ears. Many flowers will naturally attract birds, so it can be soothing to take a moment and listen to them. Listen to the birds flapping through the sky around you and singing their happy songs – consider adding a bird feeder to encourage their return. Incorporating water or wind chimes are other ways you can add calming sounds to your garden. You may even consider creating your own wind chime or having a custom one created for you to add their additional personal touch to your garden.
The sense of taste
Including some herbs, spices, or fruit plants in your garden can add to the sensory experience of your garden. Although adding taste may not be an option for your garden depending on your situation. If it’s not viable to include taste, be sure to consider creating a space that you can sit, relax, and enjoy the sense of taste of something you brought with you on your garden visit.
The sense of touch
There are many different textured plants that you can incorporate into your sensory garden. Another way you can add more textures to your garden is through the surface you stand on, whether that be grass, bark, sand, or stone. Sculptures and a place to sit can be another great way to add to your sensory experience. The sculptures you may choose to include could be representative of your lost loved one or even customized in their memory.
Sensory Memorial Garden Exercise
When you are in your sensory memorial garden, try this breathing exercise to help ground yourself and embrace the garden for everything it represents.
Equal Breathing: Inhale on the count 4, then exhale on the count 4
As you breathe focus on one sense at a time to boost the experience and really help bring you into the moment.
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