Gardening through Grief by Marie Cartier

A friend of mine has been in hospice with Alzheimer’s. And she died today. There will be a  day when I write about Barbara… what a great friend she was. How I hate that she is no longer in my life. How I know how hard it is for her spouse to lose her. How hard it is when someone so vibrant leaves your community.

But writing about her was not what I could do today. And today is when I had this blog due.  I decided after I learned that she had passed – to garden. Barbara used to help my wife water the garden. It was something comforting and familiar and useful that she did with us.

So, I went to our community garden and I pulled a wheel barrow full of weeds, harvested onions, squash, carrots, string beans, tomatoes and I deep watered everything. I stayed until it was dark, and then I came home.

It was soothing, and I began to work through the complicated entanglement of grief. How it is forever and it also passes. How it shows how much a life matters, and how we are all so connected to each other.

I’m sending photos of our garden from last spring and this summer.  In that eternal Summerland I believe Barbara feels the love I poured into the garden for her today.

May all beings be sacred. May all beings be blessed.

What are your rituals and ways that you begin to manage grief FAR family?


Marie Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.  She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine.

36 thoughts on “Gardening through Grief by Marie Cartier”

  1. So sorry to hear of the passing of your friend Barbara.I recently lost a friend as well.I manage grief or try to,by trying to be as happy as I can be and by trying to do as much good as I can.I feel that each time I try to make the world a better place I am honoring those who have gone on.Blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sorry for your loss my friend…

    Sadly, I have a fair to Intimate relationship with death and grief. And what I do know is it’s a bitch to try and manage. It’s one of those things you have to roll with punches and when you have a moment where it’s there, let it in and sit with it; but don’t wallow in it. Then remember the memories that you cherish, the good stuff, the funny things and that place she holds in your heart. When the moment passes, and it will, go live your life and have fun, because Barbara would want that for you.

    Much love and blessings to your tender heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry to hear of your friend’s passing. I suspect that Barbara is right there with you in the garden, still loving and encouraging new growth. I would plant something in memory of her in my garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My condolences. Both my mother & my brother had Alzheimer’s, ugh! I have nothing profound to offer you at this moment… but I get it!
    I’ve been with many loved ones making their transitions and the grief process is not always easy. However, it’s equally amazing to me how the death & dying process pushes me forward into better understanding myself and my own life. Pretty sure that’s one many the gift they all gave me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marie, thank you for sharing this. I feel for your loss and am glad for you time in the garden, and with Barbara. I also can’t believe how directly your post connects with my own moment right now. I just came in from spending hours in my raised bed also dealing with my current grief. I’m dealing with something difficult and I wasn’t able to upload your post yesterday, Katie did it for me today (sorry about that), so I hadn’t seen this in advance, but I’m grateful for the good word and the reminder that we are all connected, and life persists.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Marie, your post resonated with me. My youngest daughter passed away on her 33rd birthday in April. I spent weeks in my garden putting in butterfly attracting plants-this helped my get through the early days of loss. My daughter loved butterflies and the butterfly garden is a way to honor her each day. I sit there every evening and feel her presence. Your eloquent words were touching; we are all connected; we have all lost loved ones and yet, we go on living.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marie, sorry for your loss.

    You post reminds me of the words we say on the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete after naming the loved ones we have lost while pouring libations on a rock altar, “Let us bless the Source of Life and the cycles of birth, death, and regeneration.” We mourn individual losses, while praying for the continuation of life.

    Love to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The veil is of our world, and of the constant change
    That gives it form.
    And we who still share wind and rain
    Feel the SummerLand.

    The veil flows, as all things flow,
    It grows and wanes,
    Waxes bright, drifts sere and dark,
    Knowing when and where to go,
    Ever of the world.

    In places, dwellers of each side can see
    And some will pass.
    The veil grows thin, and we
    Who stand in water, sun and grass
    Feel close the SummerLand.

    It is our time to touch the veil.
    Some of us step through.
    No distance into that bright swale.
    We lost our sister.
    The light was close enough.

    Warm sky, soft earth at hand.
    We need not ask who
    Stands beside. Do the same for her.
    The dance now calls into
    The SummerLand.


  9. May every comfort and solace be yours. I’m so very sorry for your painful loss.
    I, too, find gardening comforting after loss.


  10. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my grandmother a little while ago and she helped raise me. I found comfort in Jehovah God’s promise to resurrect our loved ones again in His Kingdom (John 5:28,29; Revelation 21:3,4; Acts 24:15). Knowing that one day I will have the chance to see her again, talk and laugh with her again and hug her again helped me get through the grieving process. It’s as though she isn’t gone forever just sleeping until she is called. Also, this brochure is full of scriptures that solidified my hope in this promise. Here’s a link:


  11. My mom died in May. I happened upon your blog today and loved reading it. I miss my mom so much. I’ve been thinking a lot about her and the ways in which I can keep her menories alive in my life.


  12. This particular post is really very interesting. It has a really great peace of Data,
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  13. Very sad to hear that.
    I’m so very sorry for your painful loss.
    But your plants in your garden will always help you rewinding all those memories.


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