Finding solace at the allotment

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Ronnie and Freddie with their two younger brothers Reggie and Tiger-Ray

On a sunny morning in October 2017 Holly, Saul and their families’ lives changed for ever. Their beautiful baby boy, Bear, who was twelve weeks old was found to have died from cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Nothing could have prepared them to cope with such a loss. Their close families, friends and neighbours in Rye Harbour all offered support but all they wanted was Bear back. Each day was a black hole but in 2018 they decided to ask for an allotment in Rye Harbour.

On a purely emotional level nature can provide solace in grief: it gives the purpose, especially the planting and reaping of crops. There is evidence of restoration, renewal and rejuvenation, all of which help with healing.

Holly explained, “There are many benefits of tending an allotment, not least the bringing of us all together as a family, which helped us grieve in a positive way. We have been teaching the boys about the way plants and vegetables grow. The younger two have been eating them faster than I can pick them, especially the peas. It is not a cure for our loss, which will always be with us, but it is a way of carrying on and experiencing how nature heals. It is one big family here at our allotments and many of the people who have been tending the plots for years are happy to stop and offer advice and encouragement.

“Going to the allotment has set a routine for us and the boys just love the outdoor life. We cook our meals there on a barbecue and they come home happy and shattered after a day of playing and planting and picking.

“Nothing will ever take away the pain but by gardening together we have become stronger and focus on all the good things we have and the support and love of our family and friends. Being at the allotment brings Bear closer and we know he would have loved it.”

Photos: kt Bruce

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