Create a Memorial Garden for a Loved One - Heal the Spirit

Forget Me Not flowers ~

Planting Forget-Me-Nots is a healing and loving thing to do for a memorial garden.
Planting Forget-Me-Nots is a healing and loving thing to do for a memorial garden. | Source

A reminder that he is at peace ~

We did not realize just how much a memorial garden for brother would help to heal our mother. Mom so needed a reminder, close to her, that brother was at peace.

Oh, the pain, the anguish, of losing a brother is almost too much to bear. Yet I remember Father telling me often that God does not burden us with more than we can carry.

My brother was only sixty-eight when he passed away. He had suffered far too long from cancer. The disease was taking over his body, his mind, and encroaching upon every part of his life. The only relief we knew he received was when he finally left this life and turned towards his spiritual journey. When I looked upon that beloved face in death, I knew he was at peace. With no sound from me, the tears flowed freely and unashamedly as I kept my hand on his shoulder, silently praying and asking for guidance for his spirit. I felt Father near, ready to be there for Brother, to comfort his soul and lead him home.

Brother was a unique character from another place out of his time. It was like he lived back in the days when it was common for cowboys to be roaming around the country, never settling in one place for too long – always seeking new adventures, seeing new places, making new friends, playing his guitar and singing quietly in the gentle evening breezes.

Brother was a truck driver and saw more of this country than most people do. He was a kindred spirit to the Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., and Woody Guthrie type men. He was a cowboy, played a great guitar and sang better than most country western stars. Every time he came home to Mother’s house to visit, his guitar was never far from him. It was almost as if it was attached to his hip! We always asked him to sing and play for us after supper.

One of my favorite songs he would always sing when asked was “On the Wings of a Snow White Dove”. He sang it so beautifully. At his memorial service I used a few of the lines of that song to help comfort the family. We all took turns saying something about Brother that was a special memory to the one speaking. When it was my turn I said, “When all seems lost, there is still love born of memories” and I recited the words of the song Ferlin Husky sang:

When trouble surrounds us,

And sorrow comes,

Our bodies grow weak,

Our spirits grow numb.

When these things beset us,

He doesn’t forget us.

He sends down His love,

On the wings of a dove.

— Ferlin Husky

He always found his way home ~

Brother was very spiritual and had so much faith. He traveled most of his life to places far away and we rarely saw him, but he always managed to find his way home for special holidays or Mother’s birthday. I knew when he died he would find his way home once more.

Brother left us on Mother's 85th birthday. It hit her so very hard that we thought we were going to lose her also. We traveled from Nevada to Washington state to see him one last time. We had received notice that his time was near. Due to the health and medications my mother and sister were on we could not fly up to the Pacific Northwest. We drove up, only stopping for a few minutes at rest stops occasionally. Brother died just a short time before we got there. His daughters told us he went peacefully, knowing that we would be there soon.

As we drove into the parking lot of the rest home it was just at dusk and the rain fell gently and quietly. As we stepped out of the car I saw a patch of bright yellow daffodils blooming over by the trees in a corner of the garden. It looked like the sun had cast a golden glow on them. For some reason, which I did not realize at the time, this gave me some peace.

We stood around his bed, with his wife, and their four daughters, and prayed as one. Mama could barely stand up but she stood there with every bit of energy she had and prayed for her firstborn child. One is never closer to God and the Angels as when you stand by the bed of a loved one who has just passed over. We felt so much spiritual energy with us. My youngest brother was out in the hall. He could not bear to see his elder brother, his hero, in death. As he stood there, alone and crying, he felt a hand on his shoulder and heard Brother say, "It is alright, Little Brother." Later, when my youngest brother told us this, he said he felt a peace settle over him in that precious moment.

We will never forget ~

Forget-Me-Nots
Forget-Me-Nots | Source

Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.

— Lao Tzu

Mother finds closure ~

Mother had a very difficult time accepting Brother's death. We tried so hard to give her the assurance of love and support we thought she so needed. We did not realize just how much she was suffering in silence. One year after she lost her son, she could not acknowledge or celebrate her birthday. She just wanted to be alone. At a quiet dinner with her a few days later, she started crying and said she just could not find any peace or comfort. With tears streaming she put up her hands in a gesture of hopelessness and said, "I just do not know where he is. Do you understand that?" We looked at each other and it finally dawned on us what she meant and had been holding back for so long yet just could not speak about it.

Brother's body had been cremated on wishes of his wife and daughters. This is not a way Mother believes in. To Mother, he was not at peace and had not been properly "laid to rest". We all decided that we would create a memorial garden for her. We all got involved and each of us, my two sisters, three remaining brothers, and I, did something for the garden. I hiked up the little mountain behind where I live and found a large rock that was perfect for what I had in mind. I do not know how I managed to pick up and carry that rock down the mountain and back to my apartment. It must have weighed over forty pounds. I think Brother's spirit must have helped me.

We took Mother shopping for the rose bush she wanted. My elder sister bought a beautiful oak barrel for the rose. This went in the center of the garden. Little Brother helped Mother plant all the flowers she had picked out. I painted the rock with a white cross outlined in gold and the words: "In Loving Memory", his name and dates, Beloved Son and Brother". When the garden began blooming it was gorgeous! Not long after the garden was finished, Little Brother came over to my home. He said, "It is time." He carried the rock out to his car and we took it over to Mother. Little Brother lives with her and they sit out on the patio after supper every day and watch the hummingbirds and butterflies flutter around the garden. I sat the rock on the patio table. Mother was so surprised. Tears flowed again as she put her hand on it and prayed. She told Little Brother where she wanted the rock and we placed it gently among the flowers.

Mother hugged us and said, "Thank you. I feel he has come home again and has finally been laid to rest." I believe that the simple act of planting the flowers and placing a memorial plaque in the garden was symbolic of conducting a proper burial in Mother's mind. Mother found her peace and closure. She goes out to her garden every morning, alone, and says a prayer and feels close to her son once more. She has peace in her heart and now knows that some day she will be with him again.

The winter holiday season is when I miss my eldest brother the most. With the year end holidays and the family gathering yet again for sharing and precious memories, it is hard to realize Brother is gone from Mother Earth. Then the spring always comes back with the lovely daffodils.

Brother left us in the spring of 2007, when all the daffodils were in full bloom. For the rest of my life, whenever I will see a sunny, bright patch of daffodils, I will remember Brother is at peace.

~ ~ ~ ~

Every time I see daffodils, I know Brother is at peace ~

Beautiful daffodils
Beautiful daffodils | Source

Note from author ~

Update to this story: Mother passed away in November 2011, two days after Thanksgiving. She is now with her beloved first born.

Thank you for reading about our Memorial Garden for Brother. It was a blessed gift for Mother and helped her immensely. If you have lost a loved one, or know someone who has, I hope this article will help to bring peace to someone who would like a small memorial garden to care for and find the peace so needed.

Thank you, and may you always walk in peace and harmony, softly upon Mother Earth.

Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor

~ ~ ~ ~

© 2010 Phyllis Doyle Burns

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Comments 20 comments

saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Phyllis as I read this tribute and memorial about your brother the tears would not stop rolling down both sides of my cheeks. You touched a cord in me and a reminder of when my mother passed away, I was not at her bedside, I was trucking down an interstate when she passed.

My sisters were at her bedside and my mom was at peace and slipped to the other side with a smile on her face I was told by my sisters. We had a family gathering and I was home for that, over her graveside, we then went back to one of my sisters homes and planted a cherry tree in her back yard with a little plaque at the foot in memory of mom, she loved cherry blossoms. Well that tree blossomed beautifully every year and the scent was magnificent. My sister sits out in the summer and smells and watches those buds blossom in memory of mom.

I am also a rambling man and my guitar stayed close at hand wherever I traveled. I had it with me always on the road and sang and played with other drivers at the truck stops and rest areas. I happened to see and listen to Ferlin Husky sing that song at a club in Montreal and I was a teen and I learned it and sang it often. It was also one of my mother's favorite songs.

Your brother is at peace and by his Father singing with so many other gospel and country stars. I believe your brother and I would have got along fine and played and sang together if I met him at a truck stop. There are many of us cowboys out there on the road and many could easily have played at the Grand Ole Opry.

Phyllis thank you for this heart wrenching hub it brought back pleasant yet sad memories, but I believe our maker has a place for us all and when it is our time there a place be for us. Peace and hugs from this Saddlerider.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 6 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

You are so much like my brother, Saddlrider. The two of you would have been great friends. I so love cowboy singers and ramblers. Who knows, maybe you and my brother did meet up on the road somewhere. His name was Webb, but his road buddies knew him as Will. I bet the two of you would have been a great draw at the Grand Ole Opry!

Thank you for such a beautiful story of your Mother. And thank you for such kind words. You have brought Brother even closer to me in spirit. Thank you for that.

Walk in Peace and Harmony, my friend. Hugs, hugs, hugs.


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Phyllis when I drove, I mostly drove the South and western states of your beautiful country, I met so many fellow truckers at truck stops, you never know we may have passed each other along the way or gave a holler out across our radios. My handle was Phantom309 and I had almost 8 years of traveling the highways and byways. It is an experience I certainly cherish and never will forget. I am semi-retired now up in Canada and only work part-time to supplement my pensions and investments.

You to my friend walk in Peace and Harmony and keep on a hubbing, I love your work and will be by to catch up on some more reading of your hubs real soon. Peace


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 6 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Thank you, Ken.


acaetnna profile image

acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

Phyllis I was following a thread for Saddlerider when I came across your hub. I have just exhausted the remainder of my box of tissues, it is so, so sad and I send my heart felt condolences to you. Live now with your happy memories.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 6 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Thank you so much, acaetnna. Every day I thank God that there are so many joyful memories of my brother -- and often very funny ones that make me laugh so hard.


navp 6 years ago

good work


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 6 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Thank you, navp.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, Phyllis, I also had some tears as I read this, my mother and father died with a year between them and my heart nearly broke, it still hurts, but your garden is a great idea, and the rock, it's a great tribute, and so is this hub, nell x


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 6 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Thank you so much, Nell. The garden has brought so much peace to my mother, and to all of us - more than we thought it would. Hugs


Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 5 years ago from trailer in the country

The memorial garden was a nice thought. It is nice to have a place to go to think about your loved one.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 5 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Enlydia, thank you for stopping by. Yes, it is good to have a place to honor a loved one.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 20 months ago from East Coast, United States

Hi Phyllis, this was so beautiful. What a wonderful idea. It must have been a great comfort for your mother. There is nothing like nature to comfort a troubled soul. There is a lovely poem that goes sort of like this"

"The warmth of the sun for comfort, the song of the birds for mirth, you are closest to God in a garden, than anywhere else on earth."


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York

This is a beautiful memorial to your brother, just as the garden is. We can all feel the pain and sorrow. The garden was a perfect solution for your mother. It is hard to understand the "new ways" of our children, especially when it is a loved one.

When my father died my mother went to the cemetery every day for over a year, her grief was unbearable. We each deal with our grief in different ways. Your mother was lucky her children understood her. God bless.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

That was so thoughtful of you to have made that memorial garden for your dear mother who did derive some peace from it. Not quite in the same vein...but similar in a way...after my father died, my hubby and I built a raised garden in my mother's backyard for her. My mother said that tending it and harvesting vegetables from it helped save her during those rough times of grieving and missing my dad.

My mother lost not only her husband but both of my brothers before she entered eternity.

Up votes and will be sharing this.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 20 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Dolores. I remember that little poem and love it. Mom spent every morning sitting near her garden. It gave her peace and a spiritual connection to her beloved son. I am thinking to find another rock to paint some birds and your poem on. Mother loved birds so much.

Thank you, Dolores, for reading and commenting. I so appreciate you.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 20 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Mary. Mother loved that little garden. It was so very hard for her to understand - she so needed that little spot on Earth where she could be spiritually with her son. It was amazing how much it helped to heal her.

Thank you so much, Mary. I really appreciate your visit and comment. God bless you, dear.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 20 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Peggy. Such deep sorrow your mother had to endure. It is comforting to know that our mothers were helped by their gardens. I bet, just like my mother did, that your mother communed with her beloved husband and sons as she spent time in the garden you so lovingly created for her.

Thank you, Peggy, for telling me about your mother's garden - it brought home some peace for my mother to me and I appreciate this so much.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 20 months ago from California

This is such a touching hub--I think this is such a wonderful idea--the whole sense of rebirth and healing


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 20 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Thank you, Audrey. You are so right about the sense of rebirth and healing. It sure gave mother that peace she so needed. Thanks again and have a great day.

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