A Second Blooming

I often struggle with becoming unstuck.
I read in a book about grief that one must guard against becoming stuck in one stage of grief.
Life is the same way.
One must guard against becoming stuck in one stage of life or another.

I have a wise and wonderful advisor and friend in my life.
She recently asked me where I was in my grief journey.
As I often do, instead of directly answering the question, I told a story.
I also showed her a photo to go with my story.  

The photo was of my amazing daisy plant.  It has bloomed itself crazy this year.

When the daisy was blooming at its very finest, a friend came by to spend the afternoon on my back deck visiting.  She asked just what I had done to produce such a beautiful plant.  Honestly, I just planted it in the right location for sunlight and drainage, and I then watered it.  For several weeks, I enjoyed the positive comments that came my way because of Miss Daisy’s performance.

Then one day, Miss Daisy didn’t bloom anymore.

I just could not leave that beautiful plant in her current state.
My Daisy needed a hair cut.
July’s appearance had been stunning,
but by mid-August she just was not looking quite the same.
I knew she looked tired, spent, and all dried up, but
I knew my dear Daisy was not through blooming.

She might not bloom as gloriously as she had earlier, but she was not dead yet!

Sure enough, as I began to clip away at the blooms that were no longer beautiful,
hidden beneath the spent blossoms were
 new buds just waiting to have their chance
 to show up and  bloom in the sun.
The new buds would never see the sunshine, 
nor would they have the room to bloom again
 if I had not
 cut off the remains of the blooming which had already occurred.

After I related this gardening story to my wise and wonderful friend, I said, 
“Let me tie all this together,” 
  You did ask me a question about where I was in my grief journey.
The answer is:
I’m growing.
I’ve learned some very important lessons in trying to remain unstuck.

In order to grow, 
to bloom, 
to not become stuck in grief 
or in other areas of my life which are stuck in the past,
where I have carried unrealistic expectations,
I too must remove those things from my life which no longer bear fruit.

 Holding on to outdated beliefs about how life should be,
practicing old habits that are not productive,
hanging on to things that were once in their glory in my life,
prevent me from moving forward in life.

As every good gardener knows, time in the garden is not just spent on planting.
Time must be spent on deadheading also.
Get rid of the spent blooms.
Give the plant a chance to bloom again.

Real life deadheading is never fun.
It hurts when we experience parts of our lives being pruned and cut back.
We feel as if we have been shorn when we are going through such an experience,
but in the end,
we bloom again when we allow all the dross to be cut away.

Reflections on Grief and Gardening

Team 808

This post was written seven years ago when I struggling through my journey with grief after the death of my daughter Julie on May 29, 2010.  
Gardening was one place where I always found solace, comfort, and peace during that time.
The lessons I learned during that time continue to teach me as I continue this journey 
one day at a time.
I am reposting this in Julie’s memory on this day that always reminds us of her.


If gardening truly is a form of autobiography, then I would have to say that my gardening this year could serve as a metaphor for my life for the past month or so.  Mostly, I have felt that I have been living in a hit or miss style when it comes to gardening, blogging, house keeping, and journaling.  Perhaps, I have an excuse for this style of living.  Perhaps, I do not.

It has been a hectic past four weeks.  Family has been visiting.  I have many trips up and down I25 from Pueblo to Colorado Springs to visit my son while he was staying at his mother-in-law's house, or to keep doctors' appointments.  I have also made my share of trips up and down I25 between Pueblo and Erie, Colorado to babysit grandchildren and help out my daughter Amy in other ways.  And, I've even made a trip up North to work on a professional project with which I have been involved over the summer.

I have struggled with anxiety, stress, pain, and grief throughout the summer.  I am finally feeling better.  I am learning to deal with my stress better.  I'm no longer quite as surprised by the waves of grief that continue to wash over me.  I am learning to expect this as I move forward in the healing process.

Most mornings begin with me reading the newspaper, drinking my coffee, eating my breakfast, and chatting with my man while we sit on our back deck.  I'm grateful for such an unhurried, peaceful way to start the day.  I love the comfort the beauty of my flowers give me.

Today, I did get out of my hit or miss mode and got the roses deadheaded.  I also gave the lavender a hair cut since I had neglected to harvest the blooms when they were in their prime.  I am hoping for a second blooming.

I keep my old Olympus C740 in the shed to use to record work done on the yard and garden.  I also take photos to remind me how a certain bed was planted the year before, or to remind me of lessons I need to learn as I plant in coming years.

Yes, gardening is a form of autobiography.

Autobiographical Lessons from This Year's Garden

  • Spacing and planning ahead

I love my zinnia bed in the front yard,
I failed to space my planting appropriately.
I have that problem in life.
I had five kids in ten years.
This is another illustration of my spacing problem.
My kids, and my zinnias, are a beautiful sight to behold,
maybe a wild, blooming bunch of them all together is not a problem after all.

  • Think before you commit to something that might be a hard thing to remove in your life.
I once loved the look of Russian sage that grew in hedges I saw as I drove through town.
I planted three for four of them to use as a hedge in my front yard.
My neighbor put weed killer on all but one of them,
I was so upset with him at the time.

Later, I dealt with the reality of that big, land grabbing, spreading plant that I added to my landscape.
I no longer loved it.
It took two years of applications of weed killer,
an ax,
a shovel,
and a strong man
to get rid of the roots that this plant put down.
Finally, it is gone.
It no longer sends out new plants.
I research things a bit more now before I let them become rooted in my life.

Digging out Russian sage
Using an ax to get the job done

  • Gardening and grief

As in gardening, we must make choices in how we respond to grief.
Grief adds many textures, colors, and dimensions to our lives that were not there before.

We have a choice on how we respond to grief.

In the early days of the grief experience, we sometimes think our lives will  never bloom again.

During a time of mourning and grief, everyone turns to something.
Making choices that mask our pain is done because we believe this will make our pain go away.
In reality, such choices can delay our healing.

H. Norman Wright said that after the loss of a loved one
it takes at least eighteen months 
to experience longer stretches of time with less pain.

By trusting God's healing grace,
I find I am moving forward 
in life
in healing.

Grief changes everyone.
Grief is hard work.
Doing the hard work of grief brings the lessons that only grief can teach us.

When we invite grief to changes us,
it deepens us.

It grows our souls.

We find peace.

* Many of the lessons on grief quoted in this post were taken from Susan Duke's book, Grieving Forward, Embracing Life Beyond Grief.

** All of the flower photos were taken today in my garden.
  • The pink rose bud:  Queen Elizabeth
  • The white rose:  Pope John Paul II
  • The red rose: I did not record the name for this rose.  I named it Julie many years ago.  
  • The pink/yellow rose:  The Peace Rose