Navigating Grief Bucket List

Loss Inspires The Bucket List

Ah, the Bucket List.

This is the conversation among a couple of the Navigating Grief groups right now. The big looking-forward-to-make-something-wonderful-happen-because-I-appreciate-life-more these days list! For a list maker like me, why not? Travel seems to be the obvious and most sought after. But this week I realized a lot of my bucket list is about lifestyle.

So maybe that doesn’t count? Maybe I am more of a vision board dreamer? Is there a difference between the vision board and the bucket list? They intersect I suppose. Perhaps most important is the desire to make a great future whether a bucket list or a vision board. The word “possibilities” is very big in my vocabulary these days!

No more lawn

My front lawn has been replaced with rocks and plants. And these temporary visiting flamingos which used to sit outside Dave’s home office window just for fun.

One vision I’ve had, complete with photos to inspire, is to turn the front yard into a rock garden. No More Lawn! is the name of the Facebook photo album on my personal page for family and friends. I love it! I spent 2 hours in garden work before 8 am this week! At one point as I was digging around I suddenly stopped as I realized that when Leah was a baby/toddler I used to get up in those wee daylight summer hours and work in the back yard before she woke up. I was building a dream for her to play and be safe in a yard with flowers and love.

It was powerful memory. What a great reminder of how this activity to dig and create is a deep sense of who I am. It is a sign of continuity for my life even back to my mother’s organic garden and my first apartment flower beds in Texas heat. It was a sweet minute of remembering Dave and Leah and our young, new family. And then the reality check moment to know that Dave doesn’t see this yard. No porch time for us to sit and chat. No growing old together in the proverbial rocking chairs. I went full circle from sweet to tears in seconds.

Yet, gratitude is the strongest sentiment from it all. My yard is now my personal sanctuary, and oddly shared with the world since it is on the public side of the front yard. Like my life – exposed but private nonetheless.

I am connecting deeply with the earth. And for all the great experiences recently on the beaches of Hawaii (my daughter held her wedding there in May) I am happy to be among the rocks and in the dirt in my own front yard. I sat on the warm sand, but didn’t venture into the water much. I am happy to look out to the sea, but not participate in it. It’s a revelation – I prefer terra firma!

I am not the master gardener by any stretch of an imagination. But I do like to putter and trim and cut flowers for a vase. I like to compost and talk to the worms. I feel accomplished to drag downed limbs into a big pile. (Although I’ve become sensitive to the death or cutting of tree limbs.) Over all the years with Dave, I often caught him looking out the window at me as I traipsed across our yards. He would always comment on how peaceful I’d appear and his pleasure in watching me be deeply happy in my solo work of landscaping.

Two years ago, just a few months after Dave died, I was recovering from my ear surgery. Bending over to simply pull a weed could make me nauseous and fall over due to the vestibular imbalance. As that health issue has improved, carrying the weight of garden tools, much less digging, has been impeded by bone-on-bone hip arthritis. After more than a year of intense deep tissue massage reconstruction, chiropractic care, Reiki energy healing and personal coaching, this week I enjoyed a full morning of puttering in my garden with only a small concern for major physical ailment. (Well, I am not 25 any longer!)

Last year a cousin visited and I took him to Mount Rainier. Last week a cousin from the other side of my family visited and I took her to Mount Rainier. I had not seen either in decades, much less to have them show up in my Washington Sate back yard. I ran to the mountain to share the earth beauty! I was thrilled to be a tourist along with them.

With my clients I often offer a suspension bridge as the journey metaphor to explain the ups and downs of grief work. I remembered a bridge I walked in Costa Rica in my Can I do this? travel challenge the first anniversary of Dave’s death. I don’t have a great photo of it, but a definite memory of the physical and emotional walk.  A couple of weeks ago, I begin to wonder if there is a suspension bridge nearby that I can go take some photos. I have people tell me I don’t look like the same person as the photo I use professionally  most of the time. And I agree. There has been so many changes. Maybe “the other side of the bridge” is where I should get a photo I thought.  Indeed, I found a couple of  suspension bridges close near home. Mount Rainier. It looks scary! Challenging. And perfect.

This bridge is now one of my Bucket List quests. I want to cross it physically as much as I have done emotionally through my personal grief, health and professional work. The taking of this photo on the other side of this suspension bridge will be my accomplishment. The accomplishment to dream, realize, challenge and live my best life forward as lessons along the journey after loss. My vision is for a lifestyle filled more with nature, travel, photography, and adventure to connect with others in the process. A life to be consciously happy and try out the possibilities I set forth. My official Bucket List challenge begins with a walk across the suspension bridge and the photograph on the other side.

Game on! Can you imagine a Bucket List? What’s on it?

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