Gardening and Grief

God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.- Francis Bacon

I do some of my best thinking while pulling weeds. - Martha Smith

Everything that slows us down and forces patience,… is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. - May Sarton

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. - Alfred Austin

The lead article in our next issue of RENEW (which will be published and mailed in about 3 weeks and posted on this website by Aug 1) is about gardens. I love gardening, as do the people quoted above. Here are some additional thoughts on gardening and grief.

Energy of grief. One bereaved mom did a whole lot of gardening while grieving. She found that grief sometimes generates some LARGE energy. Sometimes grief makes a person tired, but sometimes it generated energy that had better be spent on something constructive. My friend knew it was time for a new flower bed! Urgently. She’d go out and dig, and put her hands in the soil, and get dirty, and then create something new and beautiful. This really helped her spend that energy and to feel and process her grief. Who can tell whether you’ve been crying or sweating, anyway? The dirt stuck to her hands and face the same with either.

Trees: Others like to plant a tree in memory of someone or to create a garden in a public setting, like at your child’s school. I know another parent who planned with their home city to create a walk of remembrance where brick pavers could be engraved with names of their child and others’ children too. Others have kept a plant alive for years that was part of a gift at the time of the funeral.

What you sow, you reap. Of course, that’s logical and biblical. Jesus used the image of a farmer sowing seed to reveal how His word is planted and we (our hearts and minds) are either good “soil” or not. Paul used that image also. He shows that we have a choice to sow for ourselves or for God. What are you sowing? Blessings or bitterness, love or hatred, patience or volatility, honest grieving or pretending through your grief? Are you sowing hope? Gerald Sittser (A Grace Disguised) said: how we get through grief “depends on the choices we make and the grace we receive.” Though you had no choice about your child’s death, you have some choice in how you react to things, what you hold on to and how you get through each day and each week. May you receive the gifts of hugs, time and help from others as graces directly from God. May these gifts encourage and strengthen you day by day so that the garden of your life is yielding blessings for you and your household. (based on Scriptures: Matthew 13:1-23, Gal 6:7-10)