During spring and the celebration of Easter we celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, life over death, and renewal and resurrection over destruction and decay. For those who are struggling with sadness due to the illness or death of a loved one the promises of spring can feel very far away. After a long, cold and dark winter many of us are in desperate need of hope.
So what do we do when we find ourselves find ourselves in a season of sadness? Many years ago I asked myself the same question after losing my grandmother. Her health had been deteriorating for some time, and the last few years were full of what felt like a thousand small goodbyes as I watched her disappear bit by bit. I thought I had ample time to process the loss, yet I was still unprepared for the flood of grief that enveloped me a few days after her death. I had just gotten home so I parked my car in the driveway and sat there alone, immobilized by my grief, freely letting the tears fall.
Then I looked up and looked around. Peeking through the ground were the first small shoots of spring. The phlox that had taken up only a small area when first planted many years ago had spread into a large, lush blanket of purple. Birds were chirping and gathering materials to build their nests. Squirrels scampered through the yard. The sun shone through the clouds and the signs of life were all around me.
This scene, that I had viewed so many times before, suddenly took on new meaning. As I began to reflect upon it my spirit was renewed.
There is something inspiring about seeing new life emerge out of the earth every spring. It is the fulfillment of a promise that even though a seed falls into the dark ground and waits, it will eventually emerge and grow and stretch its face towards the sun.
It is also deeply satisfying when it is life that you placed into the soil with your own hands. It still amazes me that for many types of plants and flowers if I put in the initial effort and then if I am patient, it comes back. Even though every winter the ground seems bare, it changes each spring. This gives me hope.
That day as I sat weeping in front of my home it also occurred to me that many of the plants and flowers in my garden came from the gardens of people I loved. It was a part of something that they tended and nurtured at their own home, and then they shared that care with me. Plants were cultivated so well that they multiplied, creating an ABUNDANCE of beauty and life, and there was more than enough to share. Year after year their work produces new life and growth, and it still multiplies. I have divided many of the lilies and hosta and bulbs and given them to friends, who have then shared them with their friends. Countless home are now made more beautiful because someone gently placed a small plant into the ground many years ago, and helped it grow. And ever year I still look at my garden and smile and think of them and the love they shared.
Do you see what I am trying to tell you? LOVE multiplies. Beauty grows. Good deeds multiply and have a positive effect on other people, who then want to help other people. They cycle continues on and on and on.
Looking at my garden that day made me realize that our efforts to make this world a better place will can continue to bloom and grow and add beauty to this world long after we are gone. I reminded myself that that though the body of my loved one had stilled, what they contributed to this world will remain. The lessons she taught me and the kindness she showed to others will continue to bear fruit. She also will live on in me. She still influences me every day.
Dawn breaks over the dark horizon. Spring melts the winter snow. Green tendrils emerge from the ground. Life wins, beauty, kindness and memories continue. Love lives on. And so I find hope.
Jennifer Roberts Bittner
Certified Celebrant/ Life Tribute Specialist
Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234