Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening When You’re Grieving May 30, 2018

Gardening is something that I wish I did more of in my life. I have never been a very good gardener and thus my attempts have been quite limited. What I do know of gardening is that it can provide some very special time to cultivate my thoughts as well as the soil. Gardening can be especially beneficial after the loss of a loved one.


When I was introduced to gardening I noticed a number of things right away. First, I found that it was fun and felt good to get my hands dirty while creating something new. This discovery of the “feeling” of gardening actually soothed some inner part of my being for which I had no name. This brought me great comfort even as I struggled to understand all that is required to prepare a garden. This comfort superseded any thoughts or feelings of the day. These feelings of dirt and sand, mulch and seeds, brought to me a sense of potential life. While grieving it is so difficult to see potential for the future. Gardening can help bring this sense of future potential to life again and you can dream while working in the dirt.


The second thing I noticed was that it was a lot of hard work.  The actual physical process of gardening used up a lot of energy! I found muscles I didn’t know I had. I felt the sweat drip off of me as I worked in the hot sun to get my seeds planted. I felt the cool breezes that swept unexpectedly through the garden. Expending this energy in such a positive way helped my grief subside for long minutes of the day. Gardening is good, productive, healing exercise for the hurting soul.


The third step that enticed me into the garden was pruning and pulling up weeds. Of course, there was the physical energy required, However, pulling up weeds and cutting back plants help me realize that life is full of cultivating and weeding. After a death it is a time of reflection. As my grief passes I find myself mulling my life choices. I am internally weeding through the chaff and hoping to pull out the best for the future now without my lost one. I am determining what I need to do to take care of myself, much as I am determining what to clip back or let go as I trim plants.


Finally, I found myself looking at the beauty of the new garden. It was astonishing what I had created while lost in the process of grieving. I had not intentionally chosen to garden. I was pulled into it by my family members. However gardening was a path to healing that I had not taken before. To see the full garden-the new life, was so rewarding. It reminded me that life indeed does go on even when a death happens that profoundly impacted me.


I can recommend gardening to you as you grieve. It is a process of creation and at the same time a process that calls forth internal grounding and healing. I planted flowers and a few vegetables. Whatever you plant, I know your reward will be in good fruit internally and externally.

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