Wednesday, November 10, 2010


There is a tree I see on my path during my nature walks. It has caught my eye because it is a broken tree, cracked in half. Yet at the sight of the break, new shoots have sprouted and grown.

I see this tree as a metaphor or symbol of widowhood. I was struck down and became broken. Yet had to go on with new sprouts that emerged and took root from my brokenness.

What always strikes me is how fragile, new and young these shoots look against the strong main trunk of the tree. That has gotten me to thinking about how fragile we all are in our positions. Yet why is there sometimes this assumption that our loss and losses have made us stronger? You hear it in the phrases "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger" and "God doesn't give us more than we can handle."

In my opinion, grief and loss hasn't toughened me up or made me stronger. Most days, I feel like these new tree shoots - fragile, weak, tentative, growing. Definitely not who I was once before.

I'm humbly amazed passing by this tree. Looking at these new shoots which are now their own branches coming from a tree struck down and fallen, yet still reaching for the sky. And I'm reminded of how fragile life can be, how fragile we can be. There is a necessity for us to be kind, compassionate and nurturing to ourselves. These poor shoots came up on their own taking root out in nature and surviving. There is a need for us to nurture ourselves through the growth that comes after loss. To see ourselves as fragile and new, not strong and hardy. We've been struck down and are still fragile as we continue to live on past our loss.


  1. It is weird how you feel so strong one day, and so weak the next. My emotions are something I can never count on being the same (just like the weather in Missouri). I like your analogy of the young shoots coming out of the broken tree. I think that when I am feeling weak, tired, and just downright depressed, is when I need to be the most nurturing to myself. I am usually not so nurturing to myself at this time, but this is something I am going to work harder on now.
    What is making so depressed is my dreams. I am having the ones that go back through my husband's illness/death in many different and graphic ways, and I am dealing with all the emotions at this time. I wake up exhausted, and depressed. Will this get better as time goes on? I sure hope so!!
    So today at work, I feel like I have invisible arms folded around me, protecting me from the things that bother me, and telling me that everything is going to be fine.
    I feel like I am on a race, getting past this hurdle, going around the bend, slow but steady. My biggest problem is I am not sure where the finish line is, and what is waiting for me when I get there? Any advice would be welcome!!!
    God bless!!!!

  2. Jeanne - I didn't have dreams but for about six months after my husband's death I had to sleep with ALL the lights on in the house and I'd wake up about 3:00 a.m. every morning. Then I'd read for awhile until I could catch another few hours of rest.

    I, too, thought that if I could just "get through and past the hurdle" (for me it was the first year), then everything would be over. I wish someone had told me that there isn't a finish line. I kept trying to invent one and get frustrated when I never could seem to reach it. So that is my perspective and outlook on it all - to not think there is a finish line. Knowing that, would have alleviated some additional grief for me. Others out there expect you to reach it too, and we have to stand tall and acknowledge that grief just doesn't end and we never really get over it. It stays within us and our hearts and souls, I believe for the rest of our days. But knowing that instead of trying to hide from it or feel that we are weak is what makes it okay. It just is what it is. We have to accept it. And in the meantime, hope that those around us will understand better what we face and live with and have to go through every day to go on.

    The deep intense pain does diminish (thankfully) and kind of settles into a dull throb if that helps any. It becomes more of a gentle sadness and good memories replace the bad ones. If you're having nightmares about the illness/death, I'd try thinking about less graphic memories. I do believe that we have to go through all the bad memories (relive them so to speak) but we have to give ourselves a break from it now and again. So I hope sometimes you can let yourself have that break by focusing on other memories.

    Please keep in touch and I'll be thinking of you today as I go about my day.