Sheltered by trees yet open to the light of the sun, you can hear the whispering of the wind without being buffeted by it. Sitting on a hand-made oak bench, it feels as though you’re being embraced by the wood, soothed and centred in a place of peace.
And this is a very special place, a memorial garden for people who mourn that most devastating loss, the death of a baby.
The Baby Grove was created so that families can have a beautiful place to bury their babies, a place where they can remember the precious life lost and not feel so totally alone in overwhelming grief. Because even when there’s no other human around, the spirit of the wood comforts mourners, reminding us in birdsong of the joy that Nature can still bring, helping us to come to terms with the cruelty of unexpected loss.
Here we become aware of the full circle of life: through death to fresh new life. The yearly cycle from the dark depth of winter to the bright colours of spring, from the summer spread of green leaves overhead and ferns underfoot to the golden patina of autumn, the constant change in the wood mirrors the slower cycles of our own lives.
Memory keeps alive that which is lost; when a baby dies before ever living independently, it lives on in memory. These memories are particularly painful for the mother, for whom the profound changes of pregnancy and birth create a unique connection with her baby. We at the Eternal Forest Trust, who care for the Baby Grove, have not had this experience and cannot really imagine the grief attached to such memories; but we understand that when anticipated joy turns to despair, this must be the purest grief.
It was with this in mind that we decided that the beauty of the wood should be focussed in this memorial garden, in a wealth of wild flowers. We’ve planted bulbs and small plants, scattered seeds, moved bluebells, foxgloves, campion, meadowsweet and ferns from other parts of the wood where they’re plentiful. We’ve created a hedge to mark the boundary and placed a bench by the path that runs alongside the garden.
Each grave is marked with engraved natural stone or carved wood, each small marker personal. Local artists are working on sculptures to set in the garden. And as the years go on, the Baby Grove will become ever more beautiful.
Boduan Sanctuary Wood is an ancient bluebell wood on the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales. It is owned and managed by the Eternal Forest Trust, a Charitable Company based in Pwllheli (www.eternalforest.org) which provides woodland burials for all. Everyone is welcome, the pedestrian gate is never locked and there is plenty of space for off-road parking.
The ecology of the wood was disrupted by conifer forestry in the mid-twentieth century, but the Eternal Forest Trust has been working since its inception in 2006 to restore the diversity and beauty of the wood, with help from volunteers and donations from those who share our vision. You can get in touch through our website or by ringing 01758 612006.
Arabella Melville, The Eternal Forest Trust.