House of Memories

Published: Thursday January 16, 2014

Becky“House for sale: includes former owners”

This caught my attention; my partner and I have been looking for a suitable house to buy for over six months, so this headline was particularly apposite. The story made me think about how I would feel with the previous owners buried in the garden. Would I feel free to live my life in my new home? Could you negotiate a reduced price because of the proximity of burial? Would it grant a sense of the peace which I find in churchyards to the garden? Finding the right house is proving difficult enough, without then discovering we would have shared the garden with the previous occupants. I have images of digging a pond in the wrong location and disturbing the remains. I understand the desire to keep a loved one close, but this story was particularly strange to me as the couple were buried together in the garden with no family remaining in the property to protect and honour the burials. I wonder whether others struggle with a contradiction as I do, between the soul leaving the body after death and the desire to protect their last resting place undisturbed.

I still feel the sadness of grief for my mother who died less than five years ago. We considered scattering Mum’s ashes in the garden of her home in France. I am glad that we did not choose this final resting place, however appropriate it seemed at the time. My father has since sold the house, and we would have had no right to access the garden to remember Mum. Instead we paid for a bench in her honour at a garden with many fond memories for all of us. This bench will always be available to us to visit, but also provides a comfortable spot where others can share the pleasure my mother experienced in this garden.

by Becky Shorter, Trust and Pastoral Officer

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