Press release

New garden and Covid memorial to promote better understanding of grief

Published on 23 March 2023

The lives of those lost during the pandemic will be among those honoured at the launch of a new memorial garden in Dundee.

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The lives of those lost during the pandemic will be among those honoured at the launch of a new memorial garden in Dundee.

The University of Dundee Botanic Garden is to formally open its Good Grief Memorial Garden on Thursday 23 March, the UK’s third annual National Day of Reflection.

Believed to be the first Botanic Garden in the world that marks those lives lost during the Covid-19 pandemic, the new garden will also provide a quiet space for anyone wishing to reflect on the life of a loved one.

Kevin Frediani, Curator of the Botanic Garden, said, “Grief will affect us all at some point and does so in different ways, but the pandemic certainly helped to bring this realisation to the forefront of a lot of people’s minds.

“Visitors have always sought peace and tranquillity here at the Botanic Garden, but the opening of a dedicated memorial garden will allow visitors a beautiful, considered space to reflect on a lost relative or friend.

“We have been working closely with the local community, as well as external organisations, to ensure that what we have created is a sensitive, timeless tribute to those we love and miss every day. We hope that people from across Scotland feel as though they can join us here and find solace in this very special place.”

At the heart of the garden are four specially-commissioned obelisks, representing the seasons of the year, while the space is surrounded by trees, ensuring privacy for those seeking it. Nooks have also been established, allowing visitors to find a quiet space to write notes of remembrance.

The garden will open on what will be the UK’s third annual National Day of Reflection. Organised by charity Marie Curie the event encourages people to come together to remember loved ones who have died and support others through the grieving process.

Ellie Wagstaff, Senior Policy Manager, Marie Curie, Scotland, said, “The death of a loved one is devastating and something almost all of us will have, sadly, experienced.

“The last three years have been especially hard, and the National Day of Reflection gives us all a moment in time to come together with our friends and families at midday, to remember the people who aren’t with us anymore.

“Having this dedicated memorial space at the Botanic Garden is very much needed and will provide a great deal of solace to bereaved people.”

The establishment of the new garden has also been influenced by the Say Something Dundee project, a partnership that aims to make conversations about death, dying, loss and care easier to initiate. Bringing together the University, Marie Curie, Funeral Link, The Truacanta Project and Dundee Volunteer & Voluntary Action, members of the collective will attend the launch to lend a listening ear to those wishing to learn more about grieving process.

“We want Dundee to be a place where people help each other through the difficult times that can come with death, dying, loss and care, said Vanessa Kelly, Say Something Dundee’s Development Worker.

What grief means to me

Mayra Crowe’s son, Andrew, died of a brain aneurysm in 2010, aged just 15. Mayra has subsequently campaigned to change perceptions of the grieving process and how people respond to the death of a loved one.

“I come from Mexico, where events like Day of the Dead are celebrated and our relationship with grief is perhaps different,” she said.

“However, spaces like this can help promote discussion about death and remembrance, allowing more people to feel comfortable in sharing their feelings.

“The pandemic highlighted just how important our relationships with our loved ones are.

“I had to attend the funeral of a friend online, but that did not offer any comfort to that person’s family. Sharing the feeling of loss, knowing that you’re all experiencing loss, is a very important part of the grieving process, and we lost some of that during the pandemic.”

The new garden is of particular significance to Amy Paterson, whose father, Dr Neil Paterson, was the Botanic Garden’s education officer. He passed away from cancer during the pandemic having helped to develop the Good Grief Memorial Garden in its early stages.

“Dad worked at the Botanic Garden for almost 20 years – it was a very special place for him,” said Amy.

“Even after his diagnosis he chose to continue to work there and over the years he made connections with thousands of people.

“He helped Kevin during the initial stages of developing this part of the garden and would be very pleased that it has become a beautiful and peaceful space to reflect. After he passed away, the Botanic Garden has become a place where his family and friends can come to remember him and celebrate his life and work.

“It is a sincere tribute that Kevin has dedicated one of the four obelisks to my father, which has been a great honour. I sincerely hope that others find the same solace in this space that we do.”

Notes to editors

For the third year running, Marie Curie, the UK’s leading end of life charity, is leading the National Day of Reflection on Thursday 23 March. A unique day to remember loved ones who’ve died, support people who are grieving and connect with each other. Marie Curie will be leading a minute’s silence at noon on 23 March, a nationwide network of Walls of Reflection and a series of grief-themed online events. Taking place on the third anniversary that the UK went into lockdown, the National Day of Reflection raises awareness of the impact of grief on our lives and of the need for better support.


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489