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Cooking up a grief storm

Take one steamy kitchen window, one fiery oven or hob, a good dollop of sadness and a pinch of come on now grief spice.


I have no idea when or how it began, it just seemed to gather momentum and exploded right into my kitchen. It was like Vinted for emotions! I had swapped curling up on the floor howling in pain for stirring, mixing, baking, and chopping like a demon. I was not cooking for me; it was for anyone who might eat it! The huge void in my body didn't seem to want to consume food, and the cooking was a way of satisfying it without eating anything. I was managing on soup. Very delicious well chopped and bopped soup I have to say!

I often found myself concocting a vast range of starters, several meat dishes and a pudding (I am vegetarian!)

It then progressed to how many Asian dishes I could create, or if I could achieve countless layers of melt in the mouth cake, glued together with chocolatey buttercream frosting - and not a birthday in sight! All tried out on unsuspecting weight gaining visitors. My kitchen looked like it was riding the latest storm - storm Doris or Morris. I did create rich and mellow garlic tones with spicey aromas often inviting next door's cat over the garden wall to check for chicken! My fridge groaned with raw ingredients, my oven needed an industrial clean and I was wearing myself out. What was I doing?


There are three things I do when I begin to see a habit forming, I observe, I ask, and I manage the change.


Observing me.

Observing yourself from a curious I wonder space . . . no criticism shame or blame, only wonder.

I chose two ways to observe me, one is writing a few words daily to create a love letter to my grief and another is to notice how much time I devote to cooking through my grief and to match that time with other things I enjoy - walking in the rain (just as well in the rain swept lands of Lancashire in the North); reorganising spaces; listening to drama on my iPlayer; reading and catching up on video calls. How about you? What do you find yourself doing to lift your spirits?


ASK myself or a friend.

Ask a good friend to hear your cooking up a storm story..

When my daughter began to complain that she could not get through all the food I was boxing up for her it raised some hidden fears - If I could not cook, what COULD I do? When I shared my story with a mentor I loved and trusted, she asked me to talk about the feeling of cooking and there it was, truly hidden in how I was feeling. I used to love cooking for Ant, I had a radio play in the background and a decent cup of coffee as I created food. I was trying to recreate that loving space to cover over the gaping grief loss I felt since Ant's passing.

I don't advocate swapping one feeling for another, and simply naming my feelings of loss greatly reduced the urge to cook. It came up again on Christmas day, I expected that as I miss my son dreadfully, so I limited myself to creating starters. I am learning to listen to the radio in different rooms too.


Manage the change.

When we feel the loss of someone through death, or an ending of a relationship, or even key role in our lives (my Dad had dementia and as it changed him, I felt the grief of losing bits of him while he was still here). I learned to surrender to my feelings as they emerged. When Ant died by suicide it took me many months and the help of dear friends to surrender and be with my grief. The first few months were completely numb with shock. It was after Christmas that I asked Spirit to help me to let go of the grief.

In resisting loss we try to hang on to every shred and cause ourselves more suffering and we have a greater sense of separation from love. When we surrender to our loss, sit with it quietly, alone or with a guide, the suffering readily moves through us. That is all we need to do to begin to make a change for the better. One small step.


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