For many people who have lost loved ones and are finding it hard to cope with the loss, gardening keeps them moving. Going out to the garden, unlocking the shed, mulching a vegetable bed, and just seeing the visual feast gives them a renewed sense of purpose every day.
Grief often makes a person fall into the dark side, a kind of helplessness or depression, where one could not find answers to existential questions, like “what’s the point of all this?” or “why do I need to water the plants?”
This is especially common among the elderly or parents who have lost a husband and children. A widow who lost all her children would ask what else she could be if she could no longer be a wife or a mother.
Studies point out that many healing benefits come from being surrounded by plants, trees and animals. Memorial gardens in Brisbane, such as centenarymemorialgardens.com, stage funerals in a tranquil surround and manicured gardens in the hope of easing the pain of loved ones.
Gardening allows a person to have a deep connection with the land. When something goes wrong, as when a vegetable garden does not make it through the winter, a gardener will not give up right away. The gardener will recover the soil, make it healthy again, and plant a new set of seeds or young plants right after the last frost.
But this connection is not only about making plants grow and harvesting, it is more about learning the art of patience. Gardening is not an easy chore. Most plants will not survive without meticulous care and stewardship. In fact, without proper knowledge, anything could go wrong. Before you know it, insects and bugs are terrorising your garden, and aphids start feeding at those verdant greens.
They often say that you can only call yourself a gardener if you have seen many plants die. Gardening teaches a person to patiently wait for the right time; the right time to start the seeds, the right time to move a plant to a bigger pot, the right time to prune, and so on.
Perhaps, what one can learn from gardening is not entirely the meaning of life, but one’s responsibility of being a steward of the shared land. A gardener would closely observe the daily, seasonal and yearly changes that occur.
Every day, something is happening. Though there are a variety of things happening in the garden, it does not move quickly, like a time lapse. Gardening is slow, graceful, sometimes tedious and sometimes exciting, just like life. Gardening is an instrument of grace, they say. But what matters the most is that it gives one the reason to wake up each morning, despite the growing absence of people he or she loves, to simply watch the dew rise above the half-light of dusk.