Grief Weeds and Wildflowers: March Challenge

Photogrief / Photogrief : Eleanor Haley


Wildflowers are flowers that grow in the wild. Some green-thumbed gardener doesn’t intentionally plant them; rather they sprout from the seeds of other flowers. Anyone who’s ever passed by a wildflower meadow on a perfectly warm spring evening knows that these flowers are beautiful. What is lesser known about wildflowers is that they are an important and necessary part of our ecosystem.

What is the difference between a wildflower and a weed? Is it their smell, look, or genus?

One would expect there to be some measurable distinction, but there really isn’t.  The difference between a weed and a wildflower is that a weed is a wild plant, flower or otherwise, growing where it isn’t wanted. A weed is only a weed because someone sees the plant as a nuisance, harmful, or ugly. A weed is only a weed because someone decides it’s so.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell you your grief is a wildflower (not exactly). Frankly, I’m sure your grief has a lot of weed-like qualities. I’m sure you remember grief’s early days when its twisty and tangly roots first infiltrated and suffocated your once beautiful life. At that time, almost everything related to your loss seemed painful, foreign, agitating, and threatening.

Maybe at some point you even tried to take control by regularly weeding your grief down to a pile of dirt, but still many of the plants returned.

Why? Why are some grief weeds so resilient?

My theory is that the strongest and most painful weeds grow from the same seeds as love. This unbreakable love continues to grow even after it’s been trampled on or ripped from this earth, but takes a little while to understand its new form.  It may take some time before you recognize the new way that this love has taken root, and even still, you may be hesitant to let wildflowers bloom in spaces where other things were supposed to grow.

Eventually you will see that there parts of grief that ought to be tended and cherished rather than destroyed. In tending your grief garden you will undoubtedly have to deal with the weeds, but you will also start to notice the color and comfort of the wildflowers, which connect you to your loved one and remind you of the strength and beauty that remains despite all the pain.

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