Gardening Through Grief
By Ameera Rahim
Our love started like a fairy tale. I met my late husband in 2006 and it was love at first sight. We would spend ten years together, and have six sons in that time period. We both shared a love of nature, and had every intention of gardening and starting a farm. Plans changed when he became ill and our focus shifted to taking care of him more. Even though he was sick, he would muster up the energy to prepare the yard for gardening, he even planted the cilantro that is growing like crazy right now in the yard.
When he passed away in 2016, I decided to dedicate my gardening to his memory. I carried out our dreams of an herb garden in our front yard and a vegetable garden in our backyard.
I would spend hours in the yard, watering the soil with my tears, whispering prayers over the plants and healing in the rays of the sun.
I thought I was just growing vegetables, but I was growing me. My six sons would help in the yard and say that their Abee (Arabic word for my father) would be pleased.
Gardening has helped me in my grieving in several ways:
1) Through death, I have much more appreciation for life. Nurturing the creation and watching the process of starting our plants from seed is an amazing experience. I take pictures every week and see the cycle of life happening.
I found life in the backyard garden. The same place where my late husband, would dig, and prepare the yard, has become my second home. Like people, plants need love too, they need to be nurtured and appreciated.
2) I found peace of mind putting my hands in the soil, I was burying my worries and sadness as I shoveled. I remember burying my husband 6 months ago, how I shoveled the dirt that now fills his grave… this time I am shoveling away my worries and feeling hope of new things to come from beneath the soil.
I find joy in watching the plants grow from beneath the soil. I am like my plants, and growing from beneath the soil of grief and sadness. I know that I will grow from this situation, and like with all plants… you must be patient.
Gardens tend to go through various tests, tough weather conditions, bugs, and sometimes they must adjust to the changes. I am like my garden, I am going through life’s tests, the changing emotions, the new conditions, and I too have to adjust.
3) I have found something productive to do with my time. While I tend to the garden, my children run and play in the backyard. They are ten, eight, seven, five, three, and one. They even come and help, pulling the tomatoes that are ready and watering the collard greens that are growing like crazy. We love it, it is good for all us in many ways.
4) I am doing this in my husband’s memory, we started our garden and I am committed to keeping it going and living our dreams. I know he would be proud that I finally got it going. This is just the start, but we are off to a good one. I do intend to one day have a farm, I truly believe that he will be rewarded for all the food we grow, harvest, and share with others. It is a blessing that I am honoured to do on his behalf.
5) I am growing me. I thought I was just going to nurture my garden, and didn’t realize my garden is nurturing me.
I have grown over the past couple months and have grown in my confidence that, I can do this. I can garden. I can provide my family of six growing boys with nutritious vegetables and we are creating memories. I love it, and my heart feels good about it. Nowadays I am working on all the self-love and care I can get, and gardening plays a big part in it.
Grieving has taught me some serious life lessons, and gardening has made grieving a bit easier. It is therapeutic for me to be out there in the yard and my children. I found myself, and found joy. I never thought that when I would be gardening I would be gaining more than good collard greens, I’m gaining food for my body, my heart, my soul, and my mind.
My whole being is fed, in the garden.
Ameera Rahim is the mom of seven blessings. She resides in Georgia, where she likes to can jam, visit farms and blog. She blogs at Traditional Muslimah Homemaker, where she shares her joys of homemaking, homeschooling and herbalism.