Grief & the Garden

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hellebores are first to greet me

Hitting the proverbial wall. It is that time of year. Just like that stopped in my tracks. Has it ever happened to you? I kind of anticipated it, but after 6 years I wanted to think it would be easier. How to battle back and cross the bridge? It’s April. A double edged sword. Maybe it is a blessing that I hit the wall only once a year since his birthday and death day are just 6 days apart.

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pulmonaria breathes new life into the garden

The weather has been cold and wet, but I find my place in the garden. Pulling weeds, spreading 6 yards of mulch and planting seeds is good for what ails me. It’s physically hard work. Like my heart, my back is aching. It reminds me I don’t really act my age, but down on the ground there are signs of new life. It’s worth it. If a plant that looked completely dead a month ago can make a come back so can I. That is the dirt. It has healing powers and as I wash it away from my hands so goes the anguish down the drain. Another day forward.

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What Not To Say…Add it to the list

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It’s been 2,136 days or 5 years, 10 months, and 3 days since I lost my son. By now I thought I had heard every heartfelt, but misguided thing a person could muster in an attempt to comfort me. Remember this blog post about what not to say?  Well, I was wrong in thinking I had heard it all. Let’s add 1 more to the list of what not to say.

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North Conway 1997

 

Do NOT say to a grieving parent who is now a grandparent: “You must be all better now that you have a grandchild.”  Honestly, I am not trying to be harsh here. I understand if you have never been through the loss of a child that you can’t know how one feels, but common sense should dictate that one child could never replace another. Each child is their own unique joy. Each child has their own unique place in a parent’s/grandparent’s heart. A parent does not ever forget about the lost child by filling the void with another. When I think back on that moment, I am 100% certain I caused great discomfort to the person who was hoping I was better now. Without warning tears and quite possibly rage welled my eyes and the person made a quick exit stage right.

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Thanks for letting me vent today. Now let’s just get comfortable with a steaming hot, nourishing bowl of soup. We just had our first snow, so let’s warm up with a hearty wild rice & chicken version. This recipe packs a bit of smoky spice and chocolate because after all it’s still Valentine’s week. Enjoy.

“Soup puts the heart at ease and calms

down the violence of hunger”

~ Escoffier

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Heart Warming Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 medium orange bell pepper, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh ground back pepper

1 (14 oz) can petite diced tomatoes

1 (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies

4 cups chicken stock

1 cup wild rice, rinsed

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced

¾ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, over moderately high heat until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa, oregano, smoked paprika, red pepper, salt and a few turns of black pepper; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, tomatoes with chilies, chicken stock and wild rice; bring to boil. Add the chicken. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender and puffy, about 40 to 45 minutes. Stir in the corn. Ladle the soup into bowls.

Garnish with fresh herbs, sour cream and crispy tortilla strips, if desired.

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A Grief Moment In Time

 

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Once in awhile I am briefly pulled down in to a dark moment in time that leaves me hanging by a thread. Maybe the sudden loss of my oldest brother last month, or the upcoming holidays or even learning that a dear friend needs surgery has had much to do with my latest anxiety. A big loss on top of a big loss. Now two empty chairs at Thanksgiving dinner. Waiting on a pathology report. Oh, the many ups and downs of grief can be frustrating. Just when I thought I had stabilized like a perfectly whipped cream I am deflated.

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For the most part, the demands of every day living have allowed my grief to settle down. I certainly no longer mourn 24/7. Having a taste of normal only makes the resurgence of grief more intense and thought provoking. What the hell? Grief can flare even years later. Lesson learned. Be strong. Hang on to that thread and pull yourself up.

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Turns out that thread is my heart-string. It’s always there, it’s ever strong and no amount of grief can ever cut me loose. That invisible thread is attached to everyone I love, both living and dead. It took a simple children’s book to remind me of that.

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If you have never read the book, The Invisible String written by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Geoff Stevenson you should. “Written to calm a child’s fear of being apart from the ones they love” this book is just as appropriate for adults. It reminds us that we are never alone and always connected and bound by the power of love. Where does your string go?