Communities that have emerged through devastating events, whether like the terror of Ash Wednesday bush fires in my community, or the terror of this week’s Boston bombs, will understand the power of humanity pulling together to heal. Our traditional way of representing the tragedy we have endured is to install a cold piece of metal engraved with names for us to never forget. Such memorials leave us with no feeling of joy, just sadness as we revisit the memory of the dying day. Yet if we recalled the joy those loved ones brought to our community through elements that remind us of what made them happy, we can be inspired by them and move forward. What does this kind of memorial look like?
It’s a reflection of the elements in the place that drew those people to the community or event. In my community, towering huge trees, gorgeous autumn leaves, wildlife in abundance, natural materials like wood, the magnificent scenery and the warmth of family, neighbors, friends and locals who take time to know you is a good place to begin. I would want to create a beautiful garden where I find a circle of hand sculpted benches that remind us of the scars our trees grew through, ensconced in uplifting planting – where i can watch the sun set and share the company of a friend, maybe wander through a field of daisies done as quirky recycled sculpture, ( we’re good at making something out of nothing here..) make a pebble stack alongside the creek and place a note of remembrance under it .. then plant a random seed nearby – because we never know what may appear and how beautiful it might be, just like these people in our lives.
A memorial needs to bring hope with the memory, not be a portal back to the terror. We can’t heal while we keep holding the pain of the past as a wound of today. It isn’t disrespectful of those we have lost for we never forget what they brought into our lives if we touch the joy of it every day. It is making their legacy of love live on. That’s healing. ♥