As a child we had a beautiful garden of flowers and fruit and veg. Tended expertly by my Dad. He tried to encourage me toward an interest in gardening. I had a little interest, but minimal perseverance to wait for things to grow when I was a child and even into my 20’s.
During Dad’s older years his garden showed signs of neglect, it increasingly became overgrown and unloved as the years crept by and he became less and less able. During his later life all my efforts, energy and time, were taken up with ensuring his needs were met and that he was safe and content.
After his death, there was emptiness. I was no longer busy. I had so much energy to do things but nothing to do. I was overwhelmingly sad and emotionally exhausted following the roller coaster of the last years.
Dad was gone, we had lost such a strong, central character within our family. I was also angry, I wanted him back. There were so many questions which I had not asked or information I had not remembered. I would never be able to sit and reminisce with him again, I would never be able to ask advice again. I was now closer to being the older generation.
I was closer to having to be the generation with all the answers, not the child asking for clarification or fighting against the will of others. I was supposed to be the grown up. No matter what age I reach I doubt I will ever want to be the grown up.
I was also very sad. The garden was going to rack and ruin. It was spring. Throughout my life Dad and I had enjoyed spring together. It is the most joyful season, especially at the entrance of spring, the first leaves, then flowers, yet this year it is filled with so much sorry. It felt so cruel.
I decided to try to restrict the effects of nature, particularly to the most vulnerable areas of the garden. We decided to do this with traditional tools. It allowed me to do something constructive and challenging whilst using excess energy.
I found it invigorating being able to do something constructive, I hoped Dad would not disagree too much with my decisions should he be watching.
I finally understood the joy of gardening. Gardening would allow me to grieve constructively. It would not take away my grief but I could be as angry as I liked chopping down trees. I could avoid if I wanted by planning strategy and I could reminisce and experience sadness in peace and isolation, where I grew up.
I have worked with grief for many years. I know grief comes in so many different guises, and takes it’s time to pass us by. The only thing any of us can do is find ways that suit us to manage our emotions, allowing us to express them in a healthy way. Hopefully I have found my way.
Only time will tell