Strength and Glory after Husband’s Death: Elegy to a Tree

About six months after my husband, Marty, passed away I turned to the creative voice within me to help me express my soul’s grief.  After enrolling in a drawing class, we were given the assignment to go outside and draw a tree.   I did indeed have a favorite tree, outside my house on the golf course and I would sit and look at it in the sunshine and the lightning storms,  taking great comfort in its strength and dignity.

When I took my drawing pad outside to work on this assignment, to my horror and dismay I discovered that “my tree” was missing.   It had been taken down and replaced with an ordinary palm tree.   So, in a state of grief and loss, I drew my tree from one of the many pictures I had taken of it.

Once completed, I also wrote an elegy to this tree, my tree.   It speaks volumes about what I was experiencing at that time in my life – a loss of any kind created a raw emotion that went down to my very core.  The poem and artwork about “my tree” will always speak to my soul.  And, as I have traveled with my work to art shows, it is one of my most popular pieces.  It has a story and each traveler is touched in some way by  the image of the tree.  It is spiritual in nature, and I don’t think I had much to do with creating it other than to have it come through me onto paper.  The image and words are  meant to be shared.

Strength and Glory Elegy to a Tree

Welcoming all to a vision of grandeur,

you stood tall and proud with your trunk rooted firmly in the ground

as your limbs reached towards the heavens.

I watched in awe as playful birds rested on your bare branches,

and marveled when your sparse limbs were

 illuminated by gleaming sunbeams.

You withstood the force of fierce winds, unrestrained rainstorms

and seemed to revel as lightning danced raggedly around you.

During your time on earth, your spirit was one of

beauty, dignity, grace and, above all, courage.

Then suddenly one day you disappeared!

 Thoughtlessly cut down to fulfill

man’s need for youthful perfection, you were

replaced with a rather unremarkable seedling.

Was it was time for your journey to

come to an end so that a new life could begin?

Nonetheless, your loss was jarring.

 Know this oh grand tree ~

 the indelible image of your

magnificent strength and glory

 will always have a home within my soul!

© Laurel  D. Rund 2009

Note:  On the first year marker of Marty’s death, February 11th, 2010, I planted a beautiful bottle brush tree outside my office window with notes from me and my grandchildren under the roots of the tree.  Birds and butterflies land on this tree, and it gives me great solace every time I look up from my computer and see it.  It is the symbol of hope and regrowth.

Laurel D. Rund

More Articles Written by Laurel D.

It began in 2009 when a life-changing event transformed me into the woman I am today. Never could I have imagined that the death of my husband of 42 years would take me on a journey through loss and grief to a redefined sense of self. Death, an unexpected teacher, was my transformative metamorphosis. The slow and painful healing process unfolded my creativity and, in what I can only describe as a “new normal,” Essence of Laurel was born. "Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens." Khalil Gibran My first book, “Emerging Voices” has a purpose ~ to serve as a journal and healing catalyst for anyone who has experienced a loss. The art and poetry within is a testimony as to what can happen when we acknowledge grief in all its forms. It allows for the discovery of a new perspective which will lead you on a journey of self-discovery and renewal. “Art from the Heart” has become my playground; a place where I can tap into my innermost creativity as an inspirational writer and artist. The surprise is that it came at a time when I thought that the next chapters in my life would be lonely; without purpose or passion. Instead I have been given the gift of a renewed sense of life, its possibilities and most importantly, an appreciation for living in the present moment. Our human experience, whether in a crisis or a life transition, continuously gives us the opportunity to learn and grow. We can choose to stay in a place of sorrow and regret, or embrace these life-altering experiences from which we can discover a new way of being. My hope is that my writing and ‘Art from the Heart’ touches and inspires you. Laurel

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  • Dear Laurel,

    I am sincerely sorry for your loss and identify with the comments you made about aging. When I was coping with multiple losses people kept telling me, “You’re a strong person.” I am a strong person, but this comment didn’t negate the pain of losing my daughter, father-in-law, brother, and former son-in-law within nine months. In college, I minored in art and have a graduate degree in art education. Like you, I turned to creative projects to deal with my pain and heal from grief. Your husband will always be part of your soul and he would undoubtedly be proud of you if he was still here. I applaud your courage and creativenes!