Grief garden’s big nature hug

By Sonia Isaacs

On Friday March 31, the ‘Journey of Life Grief Garden’, located adjacent to the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre, was officially opened by former Division 5 Councillor Jenny McKay.

With a gathering of around 50 people, the opening of this tranquil healing space signified a celebratory culmination of a collaborative community project, two and a half years in the making.

This innovative venture has been facilitated by local death awareness and compassionate champions Tying Up Loose Ends (T.U.L.E), who had been originally approached by members of The Maleny Neighbourhood Centre (MNC) and Maleny Flexi School to establish a community ‘Grief Garden’ and healing space. The opening event also officially launched T.U.L.E’s End of Life Website.

TULE spokesperson Christine Elcoate said loss and heartbreak were challenges that everyone must face at some point in their lives. She said the essence of grief was an essential ingredient in the feast of life; and eventually everyone is forced to let go, often before they are ready to say goodbye.

“Sometimes, during times of grief, it may seem as though grief is all that life has on offer. While sometimes seen as an enemy, grief is the shadow of love, and gives us validity to relationships, lost beings, missed opportunities, or anything else that we may have lost. This is where the Journey of Life Grief Garden plays a role in surrounding a person in an all-encompassing nature hug. It is a place to reflect and renew,” said Ms. Elcoate.

The opening featured beautiful song renditions by the Mouth Orchestra choir, directed by Brian Martin, and a special welcome to Country, Calling of the Ancestors and smoking ceremony.

Jo Rickards speaks at the opening of the Journey of Life Grief Garden.

Flexi school coordinator Jo Rickards spoke about how the Grief Garden concept initially came into being through many losses within the school community and the need for a space for grieving. The idea was able to come to fruition through Tying Up Loose Ends (TULE) accepting the role of co-ordinating the project for the Neighbourhood Centre, where they are based. To find out more visit

Main image: Jo Rickards and Christine Elcoate in the ‘Grief Garden’ next to the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre. The garden – a longtime labour of love – has finally come to fruition.