• Audrey Stringer

Grief Gardening: The Nature of Grief and Mourning Part One

As I prune and cut off the dead branches of summer foliage that so eloquently stood straight and tall in summer’s eye, I contemplate my feelings of the day. I am sad and filled with a steadfast longing for what was but was not to be — my life forever changed.


Through planting shrubs and flowers in spring, I embrace these feelings and start letting go of hurt: a cathartic experience, though sometimes futile. I see the growth in the daffodils and tulips as they sprout through the hardened soil at the first glimpse of spring. Likened to the hardiness in grievers, we need to pull out the weeds, fertilize, water and nurture with adequate sleep, good nutrition and exercise to heal. New growth will spring forth if you believe.


As I watch the withered, darkened leaves fall, I see and feel the grief that touches us in the changing seasons. I am listening to the leaves whisper as they catch their breath and fall to the ground for the last time, saying goodbye to family, friends and companions.


If the century-old oak could tell a story, it would be filled with wisdom, love, compassion and song. It would talk about the shade it provided for the laughing children and the aging grandpa; how it peered at mother robin feeding her young. The tall branches and limbs appear to reach the sky, to catch a falling star. Its outstretched branches provide a safe haven to the scurrying squirrel escaping the energetic Labrador retriever. All trees are unique in colour, shape and beauty, just like us humans dealing with loss — individual and unique to each of us.


Sometimes the wind takes my breath away and throws thousands of maple leaves in a swirling turmoil before they finally reach the earth, finding calm and peace. The threatening and intimidating winter will surely follow Autumn. Embrace this wonderful season and wrap yourself in the blanket of brilliant reds and oranges as the trees change colour. Winter will cast its white blanket soon enough. Live now and not in the future.

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