Urban Gardening and Other Ways To Deal With Grief and Pandemic Angst

5 things that helped me through this time and could (hopefully) help you. Are they strange? Maybe. Should you try them out? Definitely.

I lost my mother to cancer in June 2020, right in the middle of the covid-19 lockdown. She had been sick for a year, so it wasn’t unexpected. Just agonizing and inevitable.

The last two years have been brutal for all of us in different ways. We feel the effects in small but significant ways: the racing heart, the inability to focus, the constant state of unease. Writing has been my space of solace and reflection. I’ve written a lot of poems in 2020, mostly about my mom. I also wrote my first creative non-fiction piece – a personal essay published here. I have been able to find small moments of joy and reflection – in books, movies, series, podcasts and plants.

Becoming A Plant Person:

My best friend gifted me two succulents for my birthday. Since then, I’ve embraced my role as a ‘plant mom’, filling my house with flowering plants like lilies and bougainvillea. Now I’m trying to grow cherry tomatoes!

You can also grow your urban garden, even if it’s just two tiny plants in a Mumbai flat. When you’re drowning in grief, being responsible for something other than yourself can be incredibly healing. You can even talk or sing to your plants, especially if you live alone or away from loved ones during this lockdown. It’ll do wonders for your mental health!

Start small. Buy a plant that requires minimal care — succulents can be watered once a week. Or water your existing house plants. I bought my plant stuff from nurserylive and mybageecha. But this is a hobby for every budget. Your pot could be an old plastic bowl. Your plant could be a flowering branch you snapped off a tree. You can grow a bamboo plant in any bottle with just water; no soil needed.

Bingeing on Content:

I’m a content person. All I do is create and consume content. Here are some recommendations that can inspire, distract, or help you deal with your emotions.

Watch ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ for some much-needed catharsis. Keep a tissue-box handy.

In this series, Zoey starts hearing people’s innermost wants and desires in the form of ‘heart songs’. But she is struggling with her own problems. She’s the only woman in a team of nerdy fratboy computer coders (women in science FTW), she’s stuck in a classic love triangle, and her dad has a terminal illness.

I’m a sucker for funny feminist shows and musicals. But the way this show captures the struggles of caring after a dying family member is phenomenal. It delves deep into the ups and downs, the burnouts, and the feeling of helplessness that caregivers often experience. This show validated my experience and made me feel like I wasn’t alone in all this.

Listen To Harry Styles and allow yourself to be sad.

This is super mainstream. You don’t have to recommend Harry Styles to us.

But I do! I listened to his music on repeat for months after my mom’s death. His songs are soft, sometimes haunting, and always wholesome. They gave me the freedom to be sad, upset, pathetic, and self-indulgent. No forced positivity and no moments of crying and screaming. Just an acknowledgement of the mellow sadness that has been lingering over us for the past year, maybe longer.

Distract yourself with a comfort read. Or don’t read at all!

The pandemic has strongly affected my reading habits. If you’re finding it difficult to focus and get some reading done, that’s fine! Keep your books aside and do something else instead.

But if you are looking for your next read, I suggest going back to a book from your childhood that makes you feel safe and happy. Mine is ‘Chocolat’ by Joanne Harris: a book about a small French village, unconventional women, and chocolate. I love reading the mouthwatering descriptions of chocolate while eating chocolate! Find your comfort read and establish a reading ritual that works for you.

Motivate yourself to write your dream book with ‘The Book People’!

And not just because it’s my podcast! You can daydream about your bestselling book, get some publishing insights and add lots of new books to your never-ending reading list!

But more importantly, I have put a lot of thought and love into this podcast. And I hope that it serves as a welcome respite from social media and offers a glimpse into a better future.

Remember to stay safe, avoid all actions that put yourself or others in danger (if possible), and help in whichever way you can — offering aid and services, sharing resources, or donating money.

What has helped you cope with the pandemic? Let me know!