RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden on a mission to normalise difficult conversations

Company: McWilliam Studio

The most important conversations are often the hardest to have. In fact, a staggering one in four people say they have never discussed death with their loved ones, and that they don’t plan to; with others reporting they don’t know how to approach the topic of death. It’s not surprising then that only 43 per cent have discussed ideas for their funeral, and that only 36 per cent of men say they speak about death with those closest to them.

That’s why one RHS Chelsea Flower Show Show Garden is using the world-famous event to launch its mission to help people open up about death and dying, and support those living with loss.

Ahead of the show opening its gates to the public, grief counsellor, author and broadcaster, Jeff Brazier, visited the Memoria & GreenAcres Transcendence Garden to take a quiet moment to reflect and explore the inspiring and uplifting space.

  • One in four people say they have never discussed death with their loved ones
  • Only 43 per cent have discussed ideas for their funeral
  • Only 36 per cent of men say they speak about death with those closest to them
  • #DifficultConversations campaign, launched by Jeff Brazier at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, aims to combat this and encourage people to talk about death, loss and bereavement.

The much-loved author of ‘The Grief Survival Guide,’ who has himself experienced the loss of his former partner and mother of his children, Jade Goody, as well as losing his father at a young age, has joined up with the garden’s sponsors, Darwin Alternatives, to launch its #DifficultConversations campaign.

Designed by McWilliam Studio, it is hoped that the Transcendence Garden, with its thoughtful design and tranquil atmosphere, will invite discussions around the often hard-to-broach topic of death, allow visitors to talk about life and loss, and offer a safe space to reflect and remember.

The partnership goes beyond navigating grief and bereavement, though, and will also encourage individuals to share their end-of-life wishes, so that loved ones can be as prepared as possible when the time comes. It also aims to help those living with loss and highlight the bereavement support options available.

James Penney, Chairman of Darwin Alternatives, commented: “Finding the right words to talk about death can seem impossible, and the right opportunity never seems to arise. Yet, losing a loved one is inevitable, and will be something that every single one of us will sadly experience.

“The world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show provides a unique, high-profile platform that we hope will highlight the power that talking and reflecting can have to bring hope in times of grief. We’re delighted to be joined by Jeff on Press Day to help us spread this important message through the incredible garden that the McWilliam Studio team has created.”

As a qualified NLP practitioner, life coach and grief counsellor, Jeff has spoken publicly about his own experiences of loss and grief after his former partner and mother of his two children, Jade Goody, passed away in 2009 from cervical cancer. He also lost his father when he was 13. Jeff now actively uses his experiences to help others have difficult conversations around grief, loss and bereavement.

Jane Kirkup, from GreenAcres group, added: “We want to help go beyond “I want everyone to wear colour”, or “I want this song played” and encourage people to have the conversations that matter, not just the light-hearted remarks.

“Knowing that everything is taken care of and that the deceased’s wishes have been met is a great comfort to those grieving, so by sharing these thoughts and having the conversations now, you can ease the pain your loved ones will experience when you pass.

“We hope that the Transcendence Garden will encourage people to talk to their loved ones, no matter how difficult the topic may be. Conversations can’t heal but they can certainly help.”

Located on Main Avenue, the Memoria & GreenAcres Transcendence Garden is the first show garden to greet guests upon arrival through the main entrance to the show ground.

Follow the garden for live updates from the show on Instagram and Facebook.

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