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Grieving, honor, and gardening

grief

              I honored my mom. Over a year ago my mom left this earth to sit beside her best friend and gaze upon his eyes for the first time. Several months after that day my brothers, nephews, and husband helped my dad take care of some yard work. I put on gardening gloves and carried a bucket to the weed garden. My mom’s favorite place in the yard was her garden. For over 40 years this 10X20 patch of dirt grew the food that was on our table almost every night of the week. My parents had 5 children, a garden was a necessity just like running water. As a kid I despised digging up potatoes, plucking string beans, and picking tomatoes. As an adult I loved it when my mom would ask me, “do you want a smoothie?” Then I would watch her walk outside, bend over, walk back inside, turn the blender on and then hand me a bright green kale smoothie. The last time she did this was 3 months before she passed away.
                Sorry, back to the honoring story. Gloves on, bucket in hand I started at the far corner to pull the weeds that had taken over. With each pull I became angrier that the garden looked so bad. I understood my dad was in no condition emotionally to do this, but my heart felt like my mom was dishonored. After more and more weeds filled my bucket, the tears started to flow. I wanted my mom to be out her with me. Sadness took over. My mom was a very young 83 year old woman, vibrant and healthy.  God had a plan for her and thankfully she did not suffer. I realized I could continue to suffer with my grief pulling weeds or I could honor my mom. I wiped the tears with my dirty gloves and made the weed garden a beautiful patch of dirt. I felt my mom smiling at me and saying, pull the weeds of sadness from your life so happiness and joy can bloom. Happiness and joy are the nutrients of our soul. Doing for others is like drips of water in the dessert, add enough of them you can create a puddle, pond, a lake, an ocean. By honoring my mom, happiness returned in realizing that I am able to do this for my mom and my dad. He did not have to pull the weeds. I could only imagine if the sorrow almost consumed me, it would have suffocated him.
                That day was hard, just like most days when I visit my childhood home and the heart of the home is no longer there. A heavy weight of silence is still present. My mom filled a room with her joy. Her values and morals ran deep and she never wavered in her faith. Just like she knew that garden would produce a harvest to help sustain life, she knew anger, grief and sorrow can destroy life. The weeds in life can be pulled out one by one. Get dirty, get mad, grieve, and then find joy. Honor yourself and those around you, pull them out. Begin by asking yourself what are the weeds that are taking over your garden? Don’t forget to get the roots or they will come back. My parents had scarecrows and wire to keep the birds away. Electric fence to keep the animals away. These were needed so a thief would not come and steal the harvest. What do your borders (boundaries) look like? When we have good life sustaining substance in our life, we need to protect it. Yes, Dad if you read this, I approve of the armadillo traps in the yard, but not the pellet gun for the squirrels.
                Boundaries can take many forms. There may be people in your life that you cannot remove but have deep running roots filled with negativity and poison. One way to is to crowd them out with the opposite. Surround yourself with beautiful flowers and bright vegetables, sticking to the garden theme. These types of plants, in human form, look like people and things that make you smile. That you laugh several days later when you think about something they said. After a hug you can still feel the fingers pressing into your back. What clubs, books, events bring you joy? Fill your water container with fertilizer that produces a life that is overflowing and pour it into your life as often as you can.

Author: Elizabeth Havens, MFT Register Intern- ehavens@providencecounseling.org
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