I hope you will indulge me this week. My post isn’t specifically focused on gardening, but gardening has been instrumental in my life. Six years ago, last month, I said both hello and good bye to my son. Infant loss isn’t an easy topic – most people don’t know how to react to it. All I really want from other people is an acknowledgement that my son lived and that they say, “I’m sorrow for your loss.” I have been trying to create a family for many years – even before he was born, I was in the process of adoption. But years later, the family I hoped for hasn’t happened. As a woman, what I wanted, hoped for, and expected was that I would have the opportunity to raise a child(ren). I’ve had to face this challenge head on. I’ve seen many other women receive this precious gift and their lives have been transformed by it. Many women find that raising a child gives their lives meaning and purpose. But as someone who was given this gift, then had it taken away, I’ve had to search for meaning and purpose elsewhere. One of my goals has been to avoid becoming embittered. I’ve been inspired by other women who have had similar experiences. Some of these women went on to raise another child; others like me, didn’t – some by choice and some by circumstance. Our lives haven’t been cookie-cutter.
So I’ve searched elsewhere. My search has led me to meditation, yoga and learning to be happy with what I have now. I try to focus on my blessings in my life now rather than wishing my life away by pining for a different outcome. I recall in the first months after my son died, sitting on my bench in my garden, wondering what would happen. My dogs all sat with me in the sunshine and the quiet. We enjoyed what was happening right there, then, in our garden. Sometimes a hummingbird would visit my feeder. Sometimes a heron or eagle flew overhead. Sometimes nothing significant happened, but just the quietness of a moment. When you are first grieving a difficult loss, it is common to be easily overstimulated. I found that I could not bear much noise for the first few months. I didn’t watch much tv or listen to the radio. But I found that time in my garden was something I could handle. Sometimes just being. Other times – caring for living, growing things was healing. Eventually, I created a memory garden out of the plants friends sent me, instead of a floral bouquet. And this led me to an entirely new career. My life has been slowly transformed by this loss of a child experience.
If you would like more information or resources on infant loss, please contact Share. This is an excellent, national organization, dedicated to supporting parents and families who have experienced infant loss, whether by early miscarriage and through age two. Share also provides great resources for friends and community who want to know how best to support someone who is dealing with infant loss.
I’d like to know, how has your life been transformed? Was a garden part of that process?