Processing Grief in An Antique Garden

This hay rake stands in the middle of a garden containing other antique farm equipment. Its polished surface contains no rust or dirt. For farmers in the area, it carries fond memories. For me, it stirs up a special memory of joy mixed with a tinge of sorrow.

While we were together for a week, celebrating our 70th birthday, my sister and I visited this place. Having grown up on a farm, the machinery interested us. We skipped along the path, looking at the displays, sharing memories, and bringing one another up-to-date. My brother, who was with us, put his head through one of the old cow stanchions. We all giggled and I took a picture.

Near the end of our walk, something else caught my attention. I noticed my sister was not keeping up with me. This was unusual, as she had always walked faster than me. It seemed hard for her to stand up straight. And her hand had a slight tremble. A little alarm went off in my head. What did these things mean?

I tried to push these changes out of my mind, but I felt some anxiety. Later, I found out these were signs of Parkinson’s disease. For my sister and me, this began a long journey of loss and grief. For her, it ended two weeks ago.

It has not ended for me. Last week, I shared part of this story and my poem of releasing her into the arms of Jesus. I felt the pain of separation. I cried. Her suffering was over. I felt relief and joy. I said to myself, “How well you are doing!”

That was the first week. This second week has been much harder. I’m sharing my story because, for many years, I lacked knowledge about how to grieve in a way that brings deep healing. I’m learning new things. Maybe some of you can relate to this. If so, I hope you will walk along with me in my journey of learning to process grief in a healthy way.

In my growing up years, I learned some helpful lessons about grief and some unhelpful ones. Some emotions were acceptable. Some were not. What did I do with them?

My first poem describes where I was in past journeys of grief. My second poem reflects where I am in this journey.


After the funeral the people go home
Does that mean their grieving is done?
 
For some it seems so, I don’t hear them say
Anything more than “she went away”!
 
They talk of memories that brought them gladness?
What do they do with all of their sadness?
 
They might bury their anger and bottle their tears
Does that mean those feelings disappear?
 
They go back to their jobs and act like it’s over
Don’t lose their temper, have perfect composure
 
Their friends tell them how well they are doing.
Is this really true? Who are they fooling?
 
Are they trying to be “holy”? Trying to look good?
By acting in the ways they were told they should
 
June 23, 2020
Jane Ault

Embrace grief. Do it wisely
Do it gently. Do it kindly
 
When feeling sad, put on red
Celebrate what you had
 
Cling to memories that made you glad
Let go of those that made you sad
 
This may take some time and work
Don’t cover up what occurred
 
Trust the friends you know can help you
Invite them to join you in your venue—
 
Your site of comfort and of safety
Take your time. Don’t be hasty
 
Don’t dump on them your pain or anger
Let Jesus always be your anchor
 
June 25, 2020
Jane Ault

8 thoughts on “Processing Grief in An Antique Garden

  1. Jane, in sharing your grief journey with such vulnerable honesty, you are helping others with their grief and varied losses. Your writings are a comfort, like the old farming machinery of times gone by. A simpler quieter time when our society had more connection to the earth and humble labor. Machines have replaced so much, you remind us we are not machines. But, I’m thankful for this laptop that I can connect with!
    Thanks for your beautiful words with deep roots connected to God.

    • Deborah, your words of encouragement feel warm and soothing to my soul. Thank you for caring! Machines can never replace human heart-connection. I am rooted in God. Without him, I would be devastated. Vulnerability with others is something I’m growing in. Not without trepidation. I’m recognizing, as I share, that to “weep with those that weep” brings mutual healing.

  2. “Embrace grief. Do it wisely
    Do it gently. Do it kindly”

    This spoke to me this morning; it’s such a beautiful, bittersweet piece of wisdom. Thank you for writing and sharing even while going through such a difficult time – I too am a twin so I sympathize greatly. I’m keeping you and your family in prayer. <3

    • Sydney, I am SO grateful for your comment and your prayers. Being a twin, I believe you DO understand in a special way. I needed and I receive your encouragement.

      Grace and Peace.
      Jane

      • My heart goes out to you. May God hold you in His loving hands through this most difficult time. You were blessed to have such a wonderful sister and so many loving memories.

        • Thank you for caring, Debbie. Yes. God did bless me by giving me a twin sister,ss and I do have many wonderful memories.

  3. Oh Jane,
    This is so helpful this morning. You put into words deep feelings. I had a fitful night. Just plain couldn’t sleep. Mass media news says Los Angels County’s COVID19 is flaring up. And my precious daughter/hubby/5 adorable Grands are in Sand Canyon Country IN Los Angeles County, maybe 40 minutes away from a COVID19 hot spot.

    As I tossed & turned, I kept thinking, “Oh Lynne, don’t let those little Ellie & Jack go anywhere!” The young are as vulnerable as the old. I love Jesus. Where I sing, “In Christ alone, I take my stand…..” Do I mean that?

    You suffer the pain of separation from your beloved twin. And you WILL feel the glory of reunion when you are with her in heaven. In the meantime, you have Christ ALONE.

    And my California Family is in HIS care. Thankyou Jesus.

    I love antique farm rakes/gardens too. My hubby died 21 years ago, a farm-boy. He loved raking hay & milking cows. That was a fond memory. When I get anxious, I remember the lovely things (Phil 4:8). You helped me with that today. Thankyou, dear Sister in Christ.

    With great appreciation,
    Judy

    • Dear Judy,
      Thank you so much for sharing these things about your life. I’m so glad that the antique garden brought you a happy memory. I sensed it would be special to someone. Having lost you husband 21 years ago, you certainly have experienced grief. I can learn from you.

      I did learn from you, this morning. For I woke up with fears and doubts about what I’d written. (The enemy of our souls is always there with condemnation when we step out in faith.) Thank you so much for your encouragement to keep on writing.

      I will pray for your precious daughter and grandchildren. One of my daughters and 4 of my grands live on Long Island, the other daughter and 2 grands are in Sacramento. So, I can relate to those concerns about their health during this pandemic.
      Yes, my precious ones and yours are in HIS care. When we feel overwhelmed, let us go to our high rock of safety.

      “From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
      When my heart is overwhelmed;
      Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)

      Peace and Grace to you, dear sister.
      Jane

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