Garden of Hope

7 Stones creates a place of beauty and reflection to help families heal

“We’re about the living,” says Doug Flin, lead architect and one of the founding partners of Seven Stones Botanical Gardens Cemetery, located on 35 pristine acres off Titan Road in Roxborough Park.

At once a park, a garden and a gathering place for families, Seven Stones has thrown out the old rules on how families memorialize their loved ones.

“We’re taking an untraditional approach to meeting families’ needs at the most difficult time in their lives,” says Flin.

“We wanted to create a comfortable environment where families who have lost loved ones can sit, turn on the fire pit, listen to the water, cry, laugh, tell stories, really connect with their loved one. Whatever that means to them, that’s what we’re about. We’re not a drab, scary place.”

Indeed they are not.

Comfortable seating, babbling brooks, walking paths and spectacular views are just a few of the ways Seven Stones has created a serene, inviting place for family reflection and togetherness.

“We’re very different from the traditional offerings you find at other cemeteries,” says Flin. “We have families who might want a green burial, or perhaps they want to have an especially celebratory gathering, where they can laugh, cry, drink bourbon. They come with bumper stickers and markers for the casket.” Seven Stones also sees families whose loved one has been cremated, but they haven’t been ready to part. “We help families who may have had to make difficult decisions at the end when they were exhausted. The family starts to have mental gymnastics and ask, ‘Did we do enough?’ We can help commemorate that person’s life in so many ways, perhaps in the form of art, sculpture or a garden.”

Seven Stones sees itself as a “repository for stories,” and this is where it gets high-tech. Each family receives a QR medallion they can scan into their smartphones that pulls up stories, photos, and videos, and can even connect to a family website if there is one. “Every memorial has that. We see it as part of the healing process. “

Other departures from the status quo include monthly “Time and Togetherness” events that draw a range of age groups, with art, music, wine and cheese. “This is about the living,” says Flin. “It’s about reflecting, reconnecting and telling the stories of the people who came before us.”