A unique ‘Dear Mum’ garden, designed to help young children cope with the loss of a loved one, and provide a place of remembrance for parents who have lost a baby, has opened at Western Cemetery, in Cardiff.
The ‘Dear Mum’ garden is based around the story of a young mouse called Dora, who wishes she could tell her mother how much she misses her. Dora’s friends in the village of ‘Little Wiggle’ encourage her to write a letter to her mother and post it in a special post-box.
The garden, which is the first at this scale in the United Kingdom, is designed to give children a place of reflection and, by posting their own letter in the owl post-box, an outlet for their feelings.
Once children cross the bridge into Little Wiggle they can explore Dora’s story, meet her friends and fellow villagers, and if it all gets too much, take time out one of biscuit and chocolate themed benches.
Cabinet Member with responsibility for Bereavement Services, Cllr Michael Michael, said: “Losing someone they love has to be one of the toughest things that could happen to a child, and it’s really important that they are able to express their emotions. This garden, and the story it tells, gives them a child-friendly space in which they can explore those feelings and importantly, to take a break from them as well.”
“The hand carved figures that tell Dora’s story can be found in other cemeteries but this is the first time an entire garden has been created and demonstrates our commitment to becoming a truly child-friendly city.”
Activities such as going on a bee hunt, taking ‘rubbings’, or enjoying the skipping lanes, are built into the garden and are designed to provide children with moments of respite, if the feelings raised by the garden become too much.
The garden, which has been funded in part by a £19,000 donation from stillbirth and neonatal death charity, Sands, also provides an important space for parents who have lost a baby to remember their ‘sunshine’ and ‘rainbow’ babies.
A memorial willow tree, made from hand crafted metal work and designed to weather over time, to give a rustic appearance, has also been donated to the garden by the charity. Each leaf is made of solid granite and can be purchased in their memory and inscribed with a baby’s name.
Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity), said: “We’re delighted that the Dear Mum garden is opening today and that it includes a baby memorial willow tree that will help bereaved families spend time remembering their babies with their siblings.
“Children will have many questions when a baby dies and it can be hard for grieving families to find the words to answer these or know how to start conversations to enable children to talk. The garden will offer parents, children and their families a quiet and reflective space to spend time thinking about their babies in nature. Thank you to everyone who has supported the creation of the garden and to Cardiff Council for working with Cardiff Sands on this important project.”