The 7 Things Houseplants Taught Me About Death Acceptance

Is taking care of plants the most death positive hobby?

Brigitte Ganger
7 min readFeb 25, 2020


Houseplants can teach us death acceptance/Beyond the Dash
Houseplants can teach you a lot about life and death — even if you kill them.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about death. As an obit writer, death blogger and adult orphan, I engage with my mortality every day. Even though most scary death stuff has been demystified over the years, thoughts of life’s end occasionally become overwhelming. I’m only human.

Death is so baked into all aspects of my life that I decided to counterbalance the doom and gloom with a relaxing, life-affirming hobby: plants. I didn’t realize that this cheerful diversion was about to turn my handful of losses into scores. But bringing plants into my life taught me to truly accept death.

Plants have a lot to teach us about death, grief and living well. Here’s what I learned.

1. Death happens, and there’s often no one to blame.

None of my past botanical attempts had been successful, so I decided to turn over a new leaf (literally and figuratively) by buying a new plant. My first plant — a China Doll — is still alive and well at the time of this writing. My second plant — a bromeliad — was dead as a doornail within two weeks. After a month of denial, I composted the dried husk in secret, and privately blamed myself.

It wasn’t until I joined a plant group on Facebook months later that I realized everyone kills plants. Not only that, but it’s often not even your fault. Plants will die, and if they didn’t there’d be little joy in keeping them alive.

There’s no getting around death when you take care of houseplants. Even the most seasoned green thumbs kill plants. The key to plant success is accepting that you’ll lose some along the way.

2. Life is often made from death.

I learned to resurrect the dead from a Watermelon Peperomia.

It was the pride and joy of my collection for two seasons before my Watermelon Peperomia started to look, well, off. Droopy, dull and weirdly spongey, it held on as long as it could before one day collapsing over the edge of its pot and dramatically giving up on life with me. I helplessly watched it die a slow death until it was too…



Brigitte Ganger

Death positive commentary with a light touch. Intersecting grief, queerness and humor while trying to keep my plants alive.