Derbyshire columnist shares her grief after husband's sudden death

So this month, I wondered what to write, should it be the excitement of a new year at the allotment, what I’m sowing at the moment and the jobs that need doing over the next few weeks, or should I be completely honest?

By Sarah Taffe
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 1:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th February 2022, 1:48 pm

I’ve chosen the latter and hope that my story may be of help to someone.

I haven’t sown anything yet; I haven’t done my planning that I would typically love, and I’ve done very little of anything that’s working towards putting some veg’ on our plate.

The truth is that on New Year’s Day, Justin, my seemingly healthy husband and father to our beautiful children, died very suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack.

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Justin with his children Louis and Savannah

After a fabulous New Year’s Eve, a meal at Pesto at the Peacock, board games with the kids and Auld Lang Syne to Jools Holland’s Hootenanny, we went to bed in the early hours with great plans and hopes for the year ahead.

In cruel contrast to our evening, just a couple of hours later, our world fell apart.

Twenty one years together ended abruptly.

Now, again, I am navigating grief. It’s not something that I have spoken about openly, but just a month after picking up our allotment key back in 2014, my father committed suicide, following in my mothers’ 2005 footsteps of overdose.

Sarah, Justin, Savannah and Louis

Our allotment became so much more than a place to grow veg’; it became a place of healing in nature. Here we are again, in need of that space more than ever.

So I guess my message is, if it’s too much for you right now, if you’re going through grief or mental health problems, don’t worry about the timing, the planting of a multitude of fruit and veg’, the having a plot worthy of a stream of social media posts.

Just get outside to your pots in your yard, garden, or allotment. That’s your goal; getting outside, at our lowest points, that alone is challenging enough; sowing some seeds is a bonus.

Gardening has a magical ability to connect us with nature, and somehow that makes us feel just a little bit better. It keeps our bodies moving at the points in life that we want to hide from the world in our beds and relieves our stresses, which at times like this can consume us.

Justin Taffe

At some point, I know I will find the focus again to plan our allotment garden, but for now, just being there, having a tidy round, perhaps a bit of weeding, is enough.

I will try to share my allotmenteering through grief experiences along with my usual allotment ramblings on my Instagram @sarah.diggingtheearth.org.uk and my blog www.diggingtheearth.org.uk. I would love to hear from anyone that has any tips to share or would just like to join the fabulous gardening community.

Somehow, with trowels in hand, we will navigate this roller coaster called life.

Tidying gooseberry
The family's plot in Newton
Chives in flower