As National Grief Awareness week 2020 draws to a close I am reminded of my own painful story of grief
When my husband Rob died I received literally 100s of beautiful cards. Each one was so precious to me and they are now carefully packed away in box tied with ribbon in my loft.
Rob always bought me pink roses, and 4 of the cards I received following his death had the same poem written on them. The poem was called ‘The rose beyond the wall’ adapted from A.L.Frink’s original poem.
A rose once grew where all could see
Sheltered beside a garden wall
And, as the days passed swiftly by
It spread its branches straight and tall
One day a beam of light shone through
A crevice that had opened wide
The rose bent gently toward its warmth
Then passed beyond to the other side
Now you who deeply feel its loss
Be comforted – the rose blooms there
Its beauty even greater now
Nurtured by God’s own loving care’
The words really spoke to me and we incorporated them into his funeral service alongside songs from the carpenters ‘Top of the world’ and ‘Blue bird’ by Paul McCartney and wings. It was read by one of my best friends as I was not able to read it myself. I could barely function if the truth be known.
When my children’s Dad Richard died, we had a garden building created for Rob. Before we met he had sustained a serious motosport accident leaving him paralysed from midchest and as he worked as a design engineer from home he had no space to escape from the chaos grief brings to children. Ollie the black lab also used to regularly get under his wheels ?
The year after he died this space became my own sanctuary.
I covered one wall in pink rose wall paper, a friend gave me prints with pink roses on and I even found the most amazing chair from Wesley and Barrell that I randomly saw in a shop window ½ price! The new wooden laminate floor hardly cost anything. The transformation was complete.
Rob wrote me an amazing letter during our first year together. It was called ‘A New Dawn’ – after 10 years on his own we had met, and he described how it felt. Like a new dawn in his life.
Life was certainly never dull and even when things got tough with his health we still laughed. In that bundle of cards now in the loft, one of the nurses wrote saying how much Rob and I had inspired her during the time she knew us on the dialysis unit/ Renal ward at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage.
I only ever saw Rob, not his wheel chair and I began to feel that love returning when I spent time in the newly transformed ‘New Dawn’ garden room. We found a rose by the same name and I bought and planted 2 to climb up the side of the building.
In 2017 I began to feel as though I could coach again
As my clients would leave I would cut them a ‘new Dawn rose’ – symbolic of the new dawn in their own life as that is what I do for people who have been through difficult and sometimes sudden and traumatic life change.
I also got that familiar itch to write again. I write about life, the good the bad and sometimes the downright ugly. The subject I knew I must write about was ‘Grief’. At first the book was to be called – ‘When a favourite flower dies in your garden’ and later was changed to include the word Grief. I remember the team at the Good grief trust helping me to decide what I should choose. Always good to get other people’s opinions as being so close to your own work can be detrimental.
The words flowed onto the page and when it came to Helen Waller creating the jacket for ‘The Grief garden path’ I knew that I wanted to use the New Dawn rose that by now was in full bloom and spreading it’s branches high over the building. To me it was a symbol of hope that the love never dies and it was a deep love shared between us that would be felt every time someone picked up a copy.
It also came to me that I should include the poem in some way and that then set a conversation between Helen and I about how we got the rose to reach to the other side! Eventually it came to me in a flash. It could literally go to the other side of the book and that is what happened.
So much thought has gone into this gift book and most importantly love which I hope everyone feels when they receive a copy.
Its a book that can be opened at any time or simply remain closed until you are ready to open it. It will give you a word or a picture. Maybe some understanding of the complex rollercoaster of emotions you are feeling or help you to ensure you are taking extra special care of you using the simple analogy of ‘watering you’. Most of all know you are not alone on this journey and that there is so much support out there just waiting to found and accessed.