There Are Blossoms After Loss

April 9th, 2010

Last fall Good Grief volunteers and families planted a Memory Tree during our annual Day of Remembrance, which is a time when our two hundred participants and many volunteers and alumni gather to remember those who died. The flowers on our Plum tree are blossoming during this April warm spell. In the spirit of all the trees blossoming, Good Grief participants have been drawing flowers and decorating each pedal with the ways in which they have blossomed or grown since experiencing the death of a loved one.

I realize that the activity is a bit clichéd with its metaphor, but the theme is an important one that is often overlooked, especially by the grieving themselves. Given all the responsibilities of a grieving parent or person and the often overwhelming feelings that can be experienced, it is easy to forget, ignore, or simply to be obtuse to the personal growth and perseverance that one experiences during those early months and years of rebuilding one’s life, identity, and relationships.

Death expects an exorbitant amount from the grieving. Nearly everything about one’s life can change when a partner or child dies. Existential questions are raised about “how” and “why,” often drastically interrupting someone’s sense of purpose and structure in the world. The loss of a parent or sibling, spouse or child, can be of earthquake proportions, leaving nothing but debris and sediment to be sorted through and rebuilt with very few tools.

Despite what death requires of the grieving, many people move forward with hope and challenge themselves to do things they have never done, and they evolve as a redefined individual in ways never imagined. Through the abundant hurtles and the often absurd expectations that are placed on us, whether it be to move on or to keep up, we continue to live and so many of us do so with immeasurable courage and audacity.

There are those aspects of our story that might force us to make a decision about forgiveness or estrangement, situations and decisions that we didn’t think we could handle or overcome. And yet, we find ways to bloom.

There are those aspects of our story that will never go away. We will hold onto those details, feelings, and grief all the days of our life. And despite the presence of pain, we find ways to bloom.

Reflecting on who we are today and how we came to this place can surprise us, allowing us to learn more about ourselves and see our courage and inner-strength to heal and continue loving and trusting. And in that reflection, we may come to see all the ways that we have bloomed.

Originally posted at The New Jersey Journal, 4/8/10 used with permission of the author.

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