Townsville’s Belgian Gardens Cemetery has unveiled a ground-breaking addition to its grounds this June, with the grand opening of The Forever Garden.
The Forever Garden space is the result of a collaborative effort between the Townsville City Council, Rotary of Townsville Saints, and the local community, showcasing the power of partnerships, the reimagining of cemeteries as public spaces, and the foundational role community development can play in creating compassionate communities.
The Forever Garden has been designed for community members who have experienced the devastating loss of a child due to various circumstances, including miscarriage, stillbirth, childhood illness, or suicide.
The space serves as a dedicated sanctuary where grieving parents and individuals can seek solace, reflect on their emotions, and cherish the memories of their beloved children.
The thoughtfully curated space features installations garden beds, The Birdcage and Transcending Souls artwork created by artist Anna Mango and tranquil walking paths like The Pathway of Peace. These elements encourage visitors to pause, reflect on their emotions, and draw strength from shared experiences of grief.
At the heart of the Forever Garden lies a profound understanding that grief is an essential part of the human experience.
Ann-Maree Greaney, the chairperson of the Community and Cultural Development Committee, emphasises the importance of addressing grief within the community.
“Grief can be an uncomfortable thing to talk about, but death, dying, and loss are part of life. As the cemetery’s trustee, Council must take the lead and provide resources for members of our community who are grieving a loved one,” Cr Greaney said.
The Forever Garden represents the culmination of a partnership journey grounded in trust and respect, which began in July 2019 when the Rotary Saints approached the Townsville City Council with the vision of creating a green park space to support grieving families.
Rotary Club of Townsville Saints president Robin Strang said she was pleased to see the garden develop from an idea into a reality for the community.
“What began as a thought and an email has flourished into a beautiful space, thanks to so many. A space to sit, take a breath, and help heal to learn to live again after loss,” Ms Strang said.
Rotary Saints maintain the garden beds and the garden is a central fundraising project for their organisation.
The club will use money raised to assist with maintenance and work with Council to deliver grief and healing events within the space.
Events will be provided at no cost to community and enable ways for people to build resilience, educate themselves on death and grief, and find solace in the company of others who have experienced similar losses.
Regular visitors to the Belgian Gardens Cemetery can now find comfort in engaging with death and dying, enabling them to better support their families and communities through end-of-life experiences and grief.
The Forever Garden stands as an inclusive and accessible green space that fosters public stewardship within the cemetery, serving as a poignant reminder that even amid death, life can flourish.
By embracing grief, accepting the fragility of our existence, and recognising the enduring connection between life and death, the Forever Garden offers hope, healing, and a profound place of remembrance for the Townsville community.
Media contact – Danella Wivell