Families who have experienced the loss of a child now have a dedicated and meaningful space to grieve and cherish memories at the Belgian Gardens Cemetery.
The public unveiling of the Forever Garden, a serene and contemplative space, represents the culmination of the collaboration between Townsville City Council, Rotary of Townsville Saints, and the community.
The Forever Garden is specifically designed to provide solace and a place of reflection for families and individuals who have experienced the loss of a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth, childhood illness or suicide.
The Forever Garden is the first space of its kind delivered by a local government in Australia and is between the Infant Lawn and the Remembrance Courtyard.
Community and Cultural Development Committee chairperson Ann-Maree Greaney said the garden was a thoughtfully curated space created with Rotary Saints and community members.
“Grief can be an uncomfortable thing to talk about, but death, dying and loss are part of life. It’s essential that as the cemetery’s trustee, Council is able to take the lead and provide resources for members of our community who are grieving a loved one,” Cr Greaney said.
“As an organisation, we are committed to building an engaged community that gives every resident a sense of belonging. Grief can be isolating, and it can be particularly difficult for those who have lost a child, which is why we have worked with the community to create this safe space for community members to come together and share their experiences of grief.
“It’s our hope that The Forever Garden can provide a chance to honour and remember the life of children who have passed away, and for families and friends of those children to strengthen their bonds with community members who have similar experiences.”
Cr Greaney said the garden was designed to allow visitors to connect with others as well as the land.
“The space includes installations like The Birdcage and Transcending Souls by artist Anna Mango along with walking spaces like The Pathway of Peace and Grounding. These elements encourage anyone visiting the area to take a moment to pause and reflect on their emotions and memories,” she said.
“I’d like to sincerely thank the ladies at Rotary Saints for their tireless work towards The Forever Garden. These ladies will now help us maintain the garden and will hold creating learning sessions moving forwards, including art therapy and children’s grief discussions.
“I would encourage the community to submit their ideas to Rotary Saints or our Townsville Cemeteries Team about what learning sessions they want to see in the space – this could be anything from yoga to poetry circles.
“This is a significant contribution that will touch the lives of many people for years to come.”
Rotary Club of Townsville Saints president Robin Strang said she was pleased to see the Forever Garden evolve from a concept into a much-needed community area.
“What began as a thought and an email has flourished into a beautiful space, thanks to so many. A space to sit a while, take a breath and to help in the healing to learn to live again after loss,” Ms Strang said.
“Working with the Townsville City Council has been so uplifting and rewarding as we see these gardens take shape to do work in this important area that no one really wants to talk about, as death is so much a part of those that live on.”
The Forever Garden is now open from 6am to 6pm every day.