Gardening and Grief
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”
– Audrey Hepburn
Gardening can reduce the feelings of grief. Some of the benefits of gardening include improved physical health, emotional well being as well as increased social interaction. These are all positive ways to walk along the grief journey.
Picking and smelling beautiful flowers has a sensory benefit which helps us to feel better in general. Nature assists to balance our mind, body and soul and a perfect way to enhance these is through gardening and plants.
Getting your body moving is important during the grieving process. From simple watering, raking or digging you are moving your body and engaging in gentle exercise. This promotes cardiovascular health by getting the blood pumping through the body and using muscles to improve flexibility. When engaging in physical activity we are reducing stress, anxiety, sadness and anger. Gardening is a form of exercise that allows us to connect with nature.
Spending time in nature has been proven to reduce stress, sadness, anger, shock and other emotions related to the grieving process. Spending time walking in a garden or park creates an inner connection to nature and therefore balances our emotional wellbeing. It has been proven that touching the earth not only reduces stress, but lifts the spirit as well. It also encourages mindfulness and being immersed in the present moment, which allows the brain to take a “grief break.”
Connecting with others at a gardening group or community garden can reduce feelings of isolation during the darkest moments of grieving. Forming connections with others who have a common interest is an excellent way to create a support system that will help you cope with feelings of grief.
Your garden does not have to be elaborate to be an effective coping tool. Something simple, that you can connect with and enjoy is the perfect way to get all of the benefits of nature.
Michelle Graff, LCSW
COPE Foundation Clinical Director