Tag Archives: Grief

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw


“My little bit of earth in the front garden is one of the places that I find my bearings. The rhythm of my day begins with a cup of coffee and a little bit of weeding or dreaming.” ~Betsy Cañas Garmon, http://www.wildthymecreative.com

(Foxglove and roses in my Memorial Garden)

Living on a farm allows me more than a bit of earth, but the garden is also where I find my bearings. As much as I savor fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s the flowers that feed my soul. Beds dating back to my late mother-in-law’s day wrap this old white farm house and flow along the side of the road where drivers roar past. The road wasn’t such a menace in Mom Trissel’s time. Now, it’s ‘gardener beware’. I’ve reeled back more than once while working in that bed when a driver zoomed by alarmingly close. I have this crazy hope they will slow down to admire the flowers. Plus the barnyard geese graze in my front yard and sometimes wander near the road. We have about two dozen squawky Pilgrim geese. We’d have even more but they aren’t great parents and often misplace goslings. We’ve rescued some babies but can only do so much. It’s a running joke about the geese hating me, while not minding Hubby Dennis or daughter Elise. I think it’s because I clap and shout to get them away from the road and out of my yard. In addition to grass they graze on my plants, like phlox and bee balm. Tender lettuce is also a favorite but the vegetable plot is fenced in. Pic of goose with the monarch was taken last summer. Those are tithonia flowers the butterflies love.

Below are Shirley Poppies, Larkspur, yellow evening primrose, roses, iris, yellow coreopsis, and blue Love in the Mist blooming now in that massive bed along the road. A giant old-fashioned rose commands the far corner. This sea of color overflows with wildflowers, perennials, heirloom flowers, roses, and herbs. The abundant plants are so thick there is little need for mulch. It’s my living barrier to that beastly road. Grandchildren also play in the yard, but on this side of the border. The kids love to explore the many beds that comprise my garden, but they aren’t allowed to stick a toe in that one. Only I risk life and limb.

I’ve whittled down the vegetable plot over the years and expanded Mom Trissel’s flower beds while adding others. Herbs and blossoms surround my vegetable garden and mingle with the edibles. Drifts of wildflowers I seeded in April are lush with promise but I’ve knocked myself out dragging the hose around during dry spells. Blooms fill our small back garden from the white snowdrops in late winter to pink Queen Charlotte anemone in late summer. I watch from the kitchen window as feathered friends visit the bird feeder and hummers dart. Because this garden is enclosed by a wall, I can only expand it so far. Aggressive plants like fragrant Egyptian mint and Queen Anne’s Lace have taken too much ground, though both are beautiful. The mint should have been planted in a pot but I didn’t know that thirty years ago. Battling mint is an ongoing struggle and I must thin Queen Anne’s Lace. Iris and Dame’s Rocket (below) are finishing up for this season, as are Mom Trissel’s peonies. I moved some of her peonies and iris to the kitchen and Memorial gardens. My dear grandmother gave me this white iris years ago.

Dear to my heart is the expansive Memorial Garden I’ve labored in since late February. Not only have I worked there every day the weather permitted, but often when it didn’t. Cold wind blasted me in my scarf and multiple layers. Raw drizzle misted my face and chilled my muddy gloved fingers. In the early days, if temps hit the upper forties, I headed out the door. Fifties was a heat wave. Sometimes I waited until mid-day for the ground to thaw enough to dig. Everything was brown and depressing at first, apart from emerging daffodils. The only beauty lay in my vision of what could be. But I was bent on digging out wild asters that had overrun this enormous bed and creating a glorious site. I still dig tenacious roots out daily, but I’ve left some asters growing along the fence. They are butterfly magnets. The colorful mounds, some reaching over six feet tall, flutter and buzz with life in late summer. If I’m not careful, though, that’s all I’ll have. And I badly needed a goal and physical work this spring.

(Me digging aster roots. Hubby took pics when I didn’t realize)

I spent hours crawling around in the bleak cold getting out roots. See the tiny plant surrounded by stones? It’s a poor little rose that got lost in the asters, much happier since its rescue. Asters pictured below.


“Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.” ~Author Unknown (Truth! My back ached terribly in those first days,not much now.)

“I cultivate my garden, and my garden cultivates me.” ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

The garden has, indeed, cared for me. My father’s passing in late December, only a year and a half after my brother Chad’s death, left me overwhelmed with grief. Then my mother-in-law died. The Memorial bed is also for her. All the digging, clean up, planting, mulching, path making, and ongoing planning for what to put in where has given me a much needed focus. Writing eluded me as I never thought it would. But nature hasn’t. And Lord knows the seed catalogues and online garden sites are there for me. Local ones, too. I have discovered some wonderful gardeners through the world of YouTube. My favorite is artist Jeri Landers. the Storybook Gardener, who has been of much comfort and inspiration. I love her creativity and gardening style and avidly follow her YouTube channel.

Like Jeri, I would describe my garden as cottage, country, with native plants. I’m not in the least formal. In one video, Jeri suggested finding an unsightly–even ugly–corner and making it beautiful. So I tackled the kitchen garden, another bed ruled by an overreaching plant, Bishop’s Weed. It was a hard slog, but I am delighted with the transformation. Then I took on a third bed overrun with a different kind of wild aster, and so on…You see the pattern here. I worked until I dropped, but it helped lift my spirits.

Jeri raised stunning foxglove from seed this year, while I bought plants, so guess what seed I ordered yesterday…plus, plus. I have a little greenhouse Dennis built for me eons ago, but it relies on solar heat. Too often seeds I sow in spring don’t germinate, even with a heating mat. I like Jeri’s idea of starting some of the hardy flowers in summer and wintering them over to bloom next year.

My most enticing plant lure are roses. At last count, I’ve moved four from various corners of the yard where they weren’t thriving to join five existing roses in my Memorial Garden. Two more roses were given to me, and I’ve purchased fourteen. So far. You can’t have a remembrance garden without the queen of flowers. Most came from English rose breeder David Austin and Jackson and Perkins. (J and P had a super sale this past week.) Several roses spilled into my newly reclaimed kitchen garden. I eagerly await those that have not yet bloomed. Among my new Memorial Garden additions are delphiniums, various buddleias, oriental lilies, gladiolas, hollyhocks, sweet William, iris, peonies, hardy geraniums, dianthus, bellflowers, less aggressive perennial asters and an annual aster, heuchera (coral bells) Lady’s Mantle, phlox, yarrow, saliva, rudbeckia, violas, columbine, different varieties of poppies, foxglove, lupins, verbena, catmint, sweet alyssum, lavender, chamomile, lemon marigolds… I’m still adding. Pics below from emerging blooms in that garden: roses, nepeta (catmint) miniature delphinium and violas. I started violas and alyssum from seed.

Carding Mill — David Austen Rose

Grief has its own timetable, with unpredictable ups and downs, as uncontrollable as the tide. I’m slowly finding my way, but know the sadness will never fully leave me. I already knew this from past grief, but never quite so sharply. I’m blessed with a close loving family and dear friends. They are my lifelines. I hope to find my way back to writing. This is the most I’ve written in months and it hasn’t been easy, but cathartic. For me, gardening is a vital part of healing. At some point, I will add a plaque, statue, or remembrance stone to the Memorial garden. Maybe all three. It’s a work in progress.

“I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation.” ~Phyllis Theroux

First hollyhocks opened yesterday.

When a Dream Dies


beautiful cloudsWhat do you do? Dream again? How do you let go of the dream that was and go on?

Not easily. Dreams come in many forms and some at great cost. It can be excruciatingly painful to recognize that’s all it ever was–a dream. Not to be realized. Ever. The dream beckons mightily and nothing in the dreamer wants to release it.

When is it time to bid farewell to what might have been?

soaring eagleLangston Hughes says:

“Hold fast to dreams,

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird,

That cannot fly.”

Well, Langston, sometimes the only way the bird is gonna soar is to let it go.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ~J.K. Rowling

I’m going with Rowling on this one. Live and go on. Dream a new dream.

“Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” ~Irish prayer


White Dove and Rainbow“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” ~ From a headstone in Ireland

“In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.” ~Robert Ingersoll

“The death of someone we know always reminds us that we are still alive — perhaps for some purpose which we ought to re-examine.” ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

God's hand reaching out to man

“Let life be as beautiful as summer flowers
And death as beautiful as autumn leaves.”
~Rabindranath Tagore

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” ~Albert Pike

“He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“People living deeply have no fear of death.” ~Anaïs Nin, Diary, 1967

“If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.” ~The Crow, written by James O’Barr, David J. Schow, and John Shirley, 1994

Heavenly light in white clouds and blue sky

“My soul is full of whispered song;
My blindness is my sight;
The shadows that I feared so long
Are all alive with light.”
~Alice Cary, Dying Hymn

“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death.” ~Leonardo da Vinci


“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.” ~John Muir

cupped hands holding light in the sky

“He spake well who said that graves are the footprints of angels.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“The memory of a good person is a blessing.”
Proverbs 10:7

“Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
Irish prayer

Young woman angel with wings

“Angels descending, bring from above,
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.”
~Fanny J. Crosby

Angels are all around us, all the time, in the very air we breathe.” ~Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

This post is in honor of my brother-in-law David who died today. Dennis and I were with him when he passed. Peace filled the room.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People–Beth Trissel


trees flowering in our yard“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.” ~Colette

“The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.”  ~Henry Maudsley

(Blooming trees and new leaves in our yard)

Dove, Bird, Flying, White, Spirituality, Symbols Of Peace, Wing,Yesterday, my sister-in-law Catarina (my husband’s brother’s wife) an indomitable woman I’ve known since I was a teenager and always thought would live to be 100,  passed away suddenly from a ruptured aneurysm in her brain. The surgery performed to prevent this fatal outcome (involving a stint) was pronounced a triumph, but something went terribly wrong not many hours after.  We do not yet know why and await word from the autopsy. But for whatever reason, she’s taken from her loved ones and is in heaven now. It’s those left behind who suffer and deeply mourn her loss.

I feel especially sad for her grandbabies and the many children this motherly woman has cared for over the years in her home and her ministries with the little ones at our church.  Being a pensive soul, I’ve found some good quotes and books that may offer comfort in a hurting world. This has been an especially horrific week in America with the bombs at the Boston Marathon and explosion at the fertilizer plant in Texas.

Old Church 101“Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader” (A book quote from Amazon)

“Even hundredfold grief is divisible by love.” ~Terri Guillemets

“Grieving is a necessary passage and a difficult transition to finally letting go of sorrow – it is not a permanent rest stop.”  ~Dodinsky, www.dodinsky.com

“Many suffering people want to love God, but cannot see past their tears, says Philip Yancey. They feel hurt and betrayed. Sadly, the church often responds with more confusion than comfort. This current edition of what is perhaps Yancey’s best-known book should speak to anyone for whom life sometimes just doesn’t make sense. And it should help equip anyone who wants to reach out to someone in pain but just doesn’t know what to say.” (From Amazon)
Phillip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace, is also a wonderfully uplifting book.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.  ~From a headstone in Ireland
“While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.”  ~John Taylor

Angel, Cemetery, Statue, Tombstone, Cherub, Child, Stone, Grave, Praying, Church“Sorrow you can hold, however desolating, if nobody speaks to you.  If they speak, you break down.”  ~Bede Jarrett

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.  ~William Shakespeare

Sorrow makes us all children again — destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Images of: *Dove of the Holy Spirit *Stained glass windows in Episcopalian Church in Staunton, VA, *Ancient Mosaic of Jesus Christ in church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey *Angel Cherub Cemetery Statue