“I always see gardening as an escape, as peace really. If you are angry or troubled, nothing provides the same solace as nurturing the soil.”-Monty Don
The work of healing grief can be like growing a garden. Plants and flowers need water, sunlight, and plenty of weeding to grow and thrive.
When you first plant a garden, the plants and flowers need quite a bit of attention to make sure they become securely rooted in the soil and don’t fall victim to invading weeds that steal nourishment and space. Once well established, a few years after planting, the required TLC reduces a little as plants and flowers have matured and are firmly rooted in their chosen spots. This doesn’t mean they don’t still need water, sunlight, and weeding–only that the watering can be reduced, the plants and flowers may be less susceptible to invading outsiders, and they have adapted to their environment.
Healing from grief is like planting a brand new garden–removing some old plants and flowers and adding new ones. We plant new self-care plans and coping mechanisms and hope that they will take root and quickly flourish. In truth, things take a while to grow. Once planted, we must nourish and cultivate selected self-care and coping tools, tending them each day to check and see whether they need something.
The gardening of grief is an activity through which we can rehabilitate old, worn-out gardening beds with new flowers and plants that suit us better at this point in life. We can dig and reshape our garden landscapes into a form that is more conducive to the post-loss life we are entering. We can tend to the new budding blooms and watch each day as they slowly emerge from the ground and grow into something beautiful and hardy.
Our grief garden is where we can find peace and healing, but only if we tend to it daily. If we commit to the complex and dirty work of churning the soil of our post-loss life, we can create a lush and peaceful home for our new selves in grief. But we must do the work.
Anger, frustration, troubles…all of these take root in our grief gardens and threaten the self-care and coping tools we have planted there. Like a diligent gardener, we must remove them (at the source if possible) to ensure they don’t steal nutrients from what we are trying to cultivate. Today’s work can bring us deep peace in the future, provided we are careful to help our self-care plans and coping mechanisms establish deep roots.