Conversations in Grief Blog: Green Spaces for Grief

Rainbow Community Care Team
June 28, 2024 / 5 mins read

by Laura Wessels

“Getting outside helps,” noted a member of Rainbow’s Monday Morning Joe grief support group. Taking walks and hikes really does help. In honor of outdoor grief therapy, here are a few green spaces where we can be in nature with trees and flowers, paths and benches, to be with our thoughts and feelings of grief and loss.

1. Ebert's Greenhouse Village, W1795 Fox Rd., Ixonia, WI. While Ebert’s certainly sells plants and flowers, they have also created an outdoor space of beauty. Their greenhouse village is truly an experience. Ebert’s motto is “We Grow Happy;” not only their plants but the visitors who get to enjoy what they have grown.

2. Edgerton Hospital’s Healing Garden, 11101 N. Sherman Rd. Edgerton, WI. Their brochure states, “Our goal in developing the Healing Garden is to provide a serene and lovely location for patients, visitors, employees, and the community to retreat for the revitalization of mind, body, and spirit...Through the beauty of the plants, the smell of the flowers, the sound of the waterfall, the meditative qualities of the garden, we know that you will benefit from the healing properties of nature found in our Healing Garden.” For more information, go to edgertonhospital.com or follow this link: https://www.edgertonhospital.com/media/2225/0820rev11-healing-garden-brochure-for-web_april2021.pdf (edgertonhospital.com)

3. Horicon Marsh features multiple trails, bridges, marshy waters, and wildlife with opportunities for wandering and exploring. Horicon Marsh Education & Visitor Center is located at N7725 Highway 28, Horicon. Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is at W4279 Headquarters Road, Mayville, and Marsh Haven Nature Center is at W10145 State Road 49, Waupun.

4. Jelli’s Market, N5648 S. Farmington Rd., Helenville, WI. Jelli’s Market features strawberry fields, an apple orchard, a pumpkin patch, and sunflower fields in the fall. Wandering through the sunflower fields was especially restorative for the woman who recommended a trip to Jelli’s. Find a sunflower field in your area for a place to connect with the joy of the sky-reaching sunflowers.

5. A labyrinth looks like a circular maze. While you can get lost in a maze, the labyrinth takes you on a path. The practice of walking a labyrinth is to keep walking, following the path that will take many turns, and trusting that one will arrive at the center and then follow the path back out. Labyrinths were first developed in medieval times for people to take a prayer “journey” who were not able to travel a distance for a pilgrimage. We often think about praying or meditating while we are sitting. The labyrinth is a way to pray or meditate as we move. It is one of my favorite practices for getting present to how I am feeling and what I need. Redemptorist Retreat Center, 1800 N Timber Trail Lane, Oconomowoc, WI, offers a labyrinth on its extensive grounds. New Life Church, 7564 Cottage Grove Road, Madison, WI also features a labyrinth on its grounds.

6. Lapham Peak Unit is part of the Kettle Moraine Forest in Delafield, WI. Lapham Peak Unit has a butterfly garden, trails, and a nature center. Friends tell me it is a wonderful, peaceful place featuring paved and non-paved paths for walking, as well as park benches to sit on, giving people space to rest and reflect.

7. Rainbow Hospice Care Inpatient Center Brick Memorial Garden, 1225 Remmel Drive, Johnson Creek, WI. Rainbow will soon add a third edition of brick and bench memorials in anticipation of its Third Annual Dedication Ceremony in August. A daughter recently shared about the peace and healing she experienced as she rested in the garden watching the sun come up on the day her mother died at Rainbow’s Inpatient Center. The garden features a bubbling water rock, a fire pit, memorial benches, pergolas, and a paved path.

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8. Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville, WI. The gardens cover 20 acres with 26 different garden styles and 4,000 varieties of plants. They feature internationally themed gardens, including Japanese, Scottish, French Formal, Italian, and English Cottage gardens. My husband and I stumbled upon these gardens last summer and truly were astounded by the variety of gardens, the beauty of the foliage, and the opportunity to wander and explore, based on your pace and interest.

9. UW-Whitewater Campus Memory Garden was established in 2017 in honor of former Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin. The website explains, “The garden is a place of reflection and repose. It is also a place of celebration — the tassels that appear on the columns for every commencement are a popular backdrop for graduation photos.” The memory garden also features a memory wall and a bird feeding sculpture.

I know. There are many more memory gardens, sunflower fields, and hiking trails out there than the ones listed here. While I hope you are inspired to visit one or two of the places I have highlighted, may you also find your own place in nature for reflection and healing. And please tell me about the place that has been restorative for you.