Grief happens in stages and it comes in waves. There is shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Many of us get stuck in the depression.
Initially, I was in survival mode just trying to function on a daily basis. I was trying to support my daughter, keep my family together and not lose my job. There was no time to think about my own grief. I just had to keep going! But, I’ve lost my granddaughter and my daughter I feel so helpless and hopeless at times.
We spent 9 months planning for Emberly’s arrival, not for her death! When everything changed, we changed too. Our hearts forever broken, but I was determined as her grandmother to keep the memory of her alive.
When someone you love dies a part of you dies. I loved her, more than I even knew. I loved her for changing my daughter, I loved her for the smile and hope she brought to Amanda’s face. I loved her for the joy and excitement she brought to so many at the baby shower, anticipating her arrival. I loved her for making my daughter a mother and me a grandmother. I loved feeling her kick and roll in my baby girls tummy. I loved listening to her heart beating. I loved her for the hope she brought to our lives, hope for the future and the dreams of what kind of personality she might have. I loved the idea of snuggling with her, dressing her for the holidays in special outfits and babysitting her. I loved her! We loved her and we lost her. It hurts to the core of my inner being. I felt a sense of desperation to do something, I wanted to make the pain stop!
When those cardinals appeared in the bushes and I decided I wanted them to come back, I knew I had to feed them and create an environment they would enjoy visiting.
It has always been my hope, that healing would happen in the garden for Amanda, myself and our family. I wanted to plant things, nurture them, smile when watching the birds flutter and enjoy the beauty and fragrance in the garden.
Emberly’s bedroom was decorated with sunflowers and owls, I’ve incorporated the theme into the garden.
There was something therapeutic about planning the layout, digging into the earth and watching the progress of seeds and plants growing. My awareness of the weather and how it affects your mood really heightened as well, some days hoping for sun, others for rain.
The sun makes me smile, and as I close my eyes and enjoy its warmth on my skin, I imagine it sinking through the skin into the depths of my soul.
The rain can bring on emotions as well. I stand at the window and watch the raindrops falling on the flower petals, soaking the earth beneath them. Sadness overwhelms me, those raindrops represent my tears, Amanda’s tears and the tears of every parent and grandparent who knows this grief.
The hope we had for a beautiful baby girl and now we have a memorial garden. It isn’t fair. She should be here.
I am learning to embrace the joy the garden brings and the emotions it stirs within me as it is all a part of the grieving process.
Each year the garden evolves a little more, and a variety of birds appear.
I take delight in knowing the garden is my way of connecting to Emberly. Sometimes when I am working in the garden, a butterfly lands on a flower, I acknowledge Emberly in that moment and greet her with a “well hello Emberly” or “fly high baby girl”.
I look forward to spring each year, planning ways to attract different birds or adding new flowers I think Emberly would enjoy.
This past year while working in the garden, my stepson spotted an eagle. It was surreal to watch and again I couldn’t help but think it was a sign from Emberly letting me know, she likes the garden.
While sitting on the deck we have had an owl land in a nearby tree. We were able to capture pictures of both.
The garden has become my happy place. It gave me something to look forward to. When I had no control over the loss, no control over death, no way to stop my daughter’s pain it gave me reason to get out of bed and do something.
If you have suffered a loss, I strongly encourage a memorial garden.
I look forward to spring each year, but even during the fall and winter the backyard birds are still around and I take great pleasure in watching them feed and chase one another.
Gardening is a new part of me, It has brought some healing though I know, I have a long way to go in the grieving process.
As always, thanks for reading, be gentle please like, comment and share my blog.