How nature reflects our journey through life and loss

It is National Gardens Week and to mark it, Katie one of our counsellors, talks about the brilliant work she leads on with our Bereavement Allotment Group for Men.

Germination, growth, harvest and decay. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. Nature reflects our journey through life and loss.

Earthworks is our weekly allotment group for bereaved men, where they can meet, talk, work and relax and share stories about the loved ones they have lost and know they are not alone. The allotment provides a calm and healing environment to reflect on losses and plan for the future.

Working in partnership with Plot 22, a beautiful community allotment charity in Brighton and Hove, the allotment provides a welcoming space to talk about difficult feelings with other men in a safe and nurturing environment.

Through the seasons

We started the project in the hottest summer on record and spent a lot of time watering and harvesting strawberries and raspberries, figs and tomatoes, an abundant crop shared out with the group. We planted leeks and dug up potatoes, nothing tastes like a homegrown potato.

Autumn saw us planting bulbs, harvesting squash, picking tasty herbs and salad crops, swapping recipes and cooking tips. Winter was a time for maintenance, maintaining the allotment buildings, chopping wood for the fire, laying paths and making sure the birds were well fed.

And now in spring, we are enjoying the beautiful flowers and starting the cycle again, planting potatoes and tomatoes.

A sense of purpose

The men find the tasks and activities help give them a sense of purpose and meaning at a time when they are struggling with feelings of isolation and loss.

The weekly sessions have time for work and socialising, and a shared lunch cooked on the wood-burner. We have celebrated 3 birthdays, Christmas and New Year, and mark anniversaries and key dates with contemplation and support.

Emma at Plot 22 offers us guidance and weekly tasks, and makes sure there is a wide range of activities to suit all abilities. Some men in the group have a deep knowledge of horticulture and some are beginners, knowledge is shared and stories are told.

The restorative healing power of nature is at the core of this project. Working through the seasons, experiencing the changes, and planning for the future.

Further Information

During a lengthy illness, following the funeral, or sometimes long after the death of a loved one grief may become more than you are able or willing to handle. There are services and support which can help you through this time.

Anyone whose loved one was cared for by the Martlets is very welcome to make contact with our Bereavement Service by calling 01273 273400 or emailing

Earthworks, in partnership with Plot 22, is funded by Hospice UK

Useful Services and information:  

Cruse Bereavement Service 

Cruse offer a bereavement helpline to give support as you need it in addition to their website where you can also find resources on how to support your child.

0808 808 1677

Winston’s Wish  

Winston’s Wish has a wealth of resources and advice on how to support your child through bereavement, whilst also dealing with your own grief. They also have a free phone helpline you can call.

08088 020 021

Childhood Bereavement UK 

Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.