Blooming and Dying

hibiscus 2

Blooming and dying, blooming and dying, blooming and dying…this is the life cycle of a flower.

The hibiscus in our backyard has brought me abundant joy this summer.

Its red and yellow blooms nodding in the breeze keep me company as I eat my morning granola.

Gazing at a yellow hibiscus one morning, a lesson wormed its way into me.

Every morning, I traveled with the trajectory of the hibiscus–from bud to bloom.

When it was a tightly-closed pale-green bud, it was not sharing its full expression of beauty. As the bud unfurled petal by petal, warmed by the sun’s nourishing rays, my heart gladdened. It fulfilled its purpose–to be a source of beauty and joy and pollination–only when it opened its heart and expressed fully.

It is the perfect lesson for grievers. When loss strikes, we curl inwards. We hide, withdraw, contract–almost like we have to shrink to protect ourselves from further pain. It is the right time to down our emotional shutters.

But if we remained a bud, we would never grow. A bud isn’t expressing beauty. Or inviting joy. Or butterflies to pick the pollen so its influence can spread far and wide.

The bud–and we–must open up. Allow life to nourish, nurture and care for us as we make the journey toward open-heartedness.

This doesn’t happen overnight. We open our hearts a little more each day. Petal by petal. Uncurling, unwinding, unfurling to our fullest potential–whether we’re hibiscus or human being.

How do we uncurl when loss and grief shut us down?

The curling inward is a time for taking care of our fractured emotional self. We gather, we tend, we piece back together. That means, taking care of the anger, sadness, guilt and blame.

Next, we hobble toward acceptance. There are many stumbles and fumbles along the way. But we get there and we rest. We pause. We take a deep breath.

Then, we reflect and contemplate. We reexamine our story of loss. We pick it apart and begin to weave a new story. Of possibility. Of purpose. Of making our loved one’s loss count for something. Nobody has to die in vain.

And, like the hibiscus, we let the light in. We let life in. We open up to being cared for–as we grow toward fullness. One petal at a time. And when it is time to drop, the petals fall, one by one. Bloom and die.

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