Grieving is a lot like baking bread
Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a relationship, issues with fertility, or something altogether different, most of us will experience grief at some point in our life. After all, grief can result from any significant loss. Even with the inevitability of grief, we still find it so hard to cope with it. Grief is heavy and emotional, but at times it can also be awkward and inconvenient. No matter which stage of grief you’re experiencing, the stress of it takes a mental and physical toll. So how do we cope with this anguish? Some of us might be prone to ignore our grief. We might simply lug it around with us for the rest of our life pretending as if it didn't exist. But as much as we might like to "move on" from the burden of grief, ignoring it will only make it manifest in other, more destructive, ways. Eventually, we all need to deal with our pain.
This may sound funny, but hear me out. I like to think of grief as a giant ball of dough. I don't mean a ball of dough the size of a basketball, or even a ball of dough the size of a car. I'm talking about an enormous ball of dough that’s the size of a fucking house and that dough is now yours to carry around, think about, and struggle with. It belongs to you, you own it. So, what to do with an enormous ball of dough? At first we simply struggle with the enormity of the problem, uncertain of the next steps. But over time it seems logical to tear off a chunk of that dough, knead it, flour it, let it rise, place it in a pan and bake a loaf of bread. Then you might decide to share that fresh-baked goodness with a friend. Your friend is thrilled with the thoughtfulness of your gift, so they smile and give you a hug of thanks. Then you decide to bake another loaf and share it with yet another friend. That friend also enjoys it and is also grateful for your generosity, so you bake more bread and share it with even more people. Soon you're sharing these golden-brown beauties with family members, organizations, and even people you’ve never met before. You begin to feel pretty good about yourself because your bread is making people happy and after a while, you turn around to see your giant ball of dough is slightly smaller than it was in the past. Don’t get me wrong, working through a dough ball the size of a house will take a lifetime and there will still be plenty leftover in the end. But with time, that ball will be more manageable and less burdensome than what you began with. Just remember, these crusty loaves are your gift and your benevolence is changing the world.
So maybe you're thinking, "Yeah, but baking isn't my thing". No problem. Maybe your gift is mentoring young people or your gift is performing volunteer work, or maybe your gift is having the resources to financially support a worthy organization? No matter how you choose to share, it is our responsibility as survivors to turn our grief into gifts.
So bake on, my sweet, generous, passionate and resilient, pastry chefs. Turn your grief into gifts!