Woman standing next to the sea

Places for peace and reflection

Posted by AK Lander | On August 19, 2019 14:53

It can be useful to have a place where you feel safe to process your thoughts and get away from it all for a moment or to connect with nature.

At its core, grief and bereavement can be overwhelming and can take on many manifestations including sadness, fear, loneliness, anger and regret. It can be useful to have a quiet haven where you feel safe and secure to process your thoughts, get away from it all for a minute or connect with nature.  

For this article, we asked bloggers to tell us where they visit to be able to get some peace and reflection as well as why this location is important to them and their grief journeys.

A Memorial tree

“Having a special place to go made it easier to process my Mum’s sudden death”

Rachel Downing was 12 years old when her mum died and says she struggled with her emotions which caused a lot of her sadness to manifest as anger. “This was the first time I’d ever experienced the death of anybody close to me. I was so young and I didn’t really know how to grieve properly, my family all encouraged me to let out my emotions”, says Rachel.

Her family clubbed together to buy a tree in a village where they used to enjoy camping holidays: “The idea was to help me with her loss. We buried her ashes by her tree and had a memorial plaque put there too. We decorated the tree by planting her favourite flowers there including some daffodils which come up every spring around Mother’s Day. Her favourite animal was a fox so there’s a small fox sculpture. There’s a lake nearby, some ducks and a few horses. It’s peaceful and having a special place to go made it easier to process my mum’s sudden death.”

Rachel spends lots of time there because it gives her the perfect place to commemorate her mum: “I feel like I can talk to my Mum about my life now. It’s been 16 years since she passed but having a special place to go to makes it feel like she’s still a part of my life. Sometimes I even have conversations with her. I can tell her about her grandchildren I can talk to her about my life now and reminisce about all the happy memories I have. Maintaining the garden around the tree makes me feel a connection to her. She loved gardening and she would have loved visiting the woods. That’s what makes it so personal and special.”

A memorial bench

“Having a special place to go is important to me”

A wooden beach overlooking the beach

Emma-Louise, who blogs at Even Angels Fall, told us that her grandfather died when she was 12-years-old. He had been diagnosed with cancer and passed away at the age of 65: “As my mum and dad had split when I was two and my mum was close to her parents, I saw him very much as a father figure and it hit very hard when he passed away.”

The family used to visit the coastline in Poole, Dorset and decided to add a memorial plaque to a bench: “Whenever I feel the need to get some peace I head down there as it helps me to feel close to him. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore can help calm my mind and it has become my happy place, which I think is lovely amongst the grief.”

It has been 18 years since her grandad’s passing and despite finding it hard without him, “having a special place to go is really important” to Emma-Louise and her family.

Councils across the country have a memorial bench and tree scheme which means people can create a tribute for their loved ones. Procedures can vary between councils and districts, but generally you will be given the opportunity to indicate where you want a tree planted, bench installed, or location of an existing bench for your memorial plaque.

A walk surrounded by nature

“I go back to reminisce and breathe”

That British Betty is a lifestyle blog run by Lisa who lives near Manchester with her family. She gave us an insight into her grief journey as her fiancé Neil died suddenly from a rare virus in 2014. The couple had been together for five years and had booked their wedding a few months before his death. “I spent the months afterwards in shock, feeling very alone. After a long grieving process, I can now look back on our time together with happiness. It’s not always easy, but I do feel that this experience changed me as a person for the better. I'm hyper-aware that none of us knows what tomorrow holds and that makes me not sweat the small stuff like I used to.”

Lisa gravitates towards a reservoir near Bolton when she needs time for solace: “On sunny days, Neil and I would spend hours walking around there. We'd turn our phones off and just talk. The scenery is breath-taking and there's a bench by the water where he loved to sit. We'd always stop off for ice-cream afterwards. I go back there to reminisce and breathe in nature; it helps to clear my mind.”

The beach

“Whether the waves are crashing or the water is still as can be, it’s something to focus on and clear my mind”

A woman looking out at the ocean

Lauren created her blog That Little Outfit as a hub for mums needing guidance and to talk about all aspects of parenting. Lauren had given birth shortly before her mum died and says “Losing my mum so suddenly, when she was just 54, understandably hit us all so hard. I wandered round and round the cemetery with tears streaming down my face. I had to keep walking back to my mum’s headstone, almost like I was checking that it was actually real.”

Three years on, Lauren uses a quiet beach near her home as her place for peace and reflection: “I lived in London until earlier this year so it is of no relevance to family life or memories of my darling mum, but there’s something about the water that is so calming, it’s perfect for just sitting and just being. Whether the waves are crashing or the water is still as can be, it’s something to focus on and clear my mind; a place I often find myself talking to my mum in my head.”

Connecting with the great outdoors

“Time spent in nature puts everything into perspective”

Connecting with nature is something Thena from HodgePodge Hippie does to achieve a sense of calm and peace. Thena, who blogs about a variety of topics including self-care, camping, and travel, told us that her grief journey is “special” following the loss of someone close.

Thena told us: “I lost someone very important in my life. Before that moment, it honestly never really occurred to me how much truth there is in the fact that life is simply so short. When I need time to myself, I love to go anywhere where I can connect with nature. This could be camping, hiking or just simply walking out my front door and hopping on my bike. The time I spend in nature just puts everything into perspective and makes it all slow down. I find deep clarity when I can be with my core family or by myself to think and reconnect.”

There are many ways people can achieve a sense of calmness by heading outside, whether it’s a short walk or a weekend of camping, breathing in the fresh air can help with mental and physical health. Leanna from Pure Thoughts writes: “Finding ways to build your connection to nature is the best form of therapy there is.  Not only does it have the power to ground and centre your spirit but it's also easy and usually free - a powerful combination.”

Travelling to create memories

“I’m making it my challenge for at least one of us to visit every country he went to”

A map of the world

Suzanne blogs at Chicken Ruby and has set herself a challenge of visiting every country her late father visited. “My father died suddenly at home in July 2017, he was 77, it was unexpected. I sat with him as he died. Many people tell me how fortunate I was to be with him as I currently live in Dubai. I disagree, watching my father die was a traumatic event for me. I believe my father knew his time was coming to an end as he’d discussed with me his personal affairs in previous weeks and we’d spent a lot of good times together during that time”, she explained.

After her father died, she began the process of sorting out her father’s possessions: “My father spent his working life travelling the world and as a child, I loved hearing about his adventures and to this day treasure the souvenirs he bought me. We found every single flight ticket of the places he’d been. I marked them on a map, and all the places my husband and I and our 5 children have travelled to. I’m slowly making it my challenge for at least one of us to visit every country my father went to.”

Suzanne told us that she gets a lot of comfort being able to share her father’s stories of travel and adventure with her children: “My father is always with me, he was very opinionated, when I see things I know he would have commented on, I can hear him in my head.

“Last year I finally made it to Cairo and visited the pyramids with my husband. Inspired by my father’s stories I took my husband to the hotel where he had stayed and visited some of the markets and enjoyed the museum. At the pyramids, I broke down and couldn’t stop crying. I was so excited to be there and the one person I wanted to share it all with was no longer there. It is getting easier as I travel to the same places and I get a lot of comfort knowing he’s still with me and my children who also love to explore the world.”

Psychology Today reveals that “No matter your emotional state, travelling always provides an insightful vantage point into your life, but when you're grieving, that vantage point often widens into something much more. Grief is an isolating experience. It's lonely and quiet and it's easy to sink into. Reminding yourself that there is a whole world out there still turning on its axis can be vital”.

We appreciated that there are lots of things to organise when someone passes away; from organising a funeral to deciding between granite headstones and marble headstones and sorting through possessions. When you feel ready, it can be worth taking some time to find your own place for peace and reflection to provide comfort during your grief journey.