Three and a half years ago I had a couple of tragedies in my life that occurred right in a row. It was in the midst of the first tragedy (separation leading to divorce) that I was working closely with the Weston A. Price Foundation to help acquire local food for the Annual Conference. I had the fabulous opportunity to be a part of the conference and to present a cooking class following the conference. These opportunities came out of an article I had written for the newsletter Wise Traditions. Being part of the conference was a great experience. I even got to meet and have supper with some of my WAPF heroes. I had hoped that the experience would lead to even more opportunities and a career in the growing traditional foods movement. This may have happened much faster if the second tragedy had not knocked the ground out from under me. My baby boy, who was born just four months after the conference, did not survive.
I will not write in detail right now about the loss of my infant son. Click here to read more of his story. For whatever reason, good nutrition did not prevent the placenta problems that cost him his life. To say that I was devastated would be an understatement. I think that I temporarily lost faith in traditional foods and my own purpose in life. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that I stopped eating well. In fact, many friends sustained and nourished me throughout the grief process with their good cooking and supportive friendships. I am especially thankful for Michaeleen, who drove over an hour to bring me some of her yummy crispy nuts and soaked granola, as well as a perfect liver paté. Those foods were just what I needed. Then there was Margot, who showed up with home-made lamb stew and sourdough spelt bread the first night I was home alone. She listened to me and offered support while tidying up the kitchen and warming up the little feast she had brought. These and other friends kept my body nourished and my soul inspired. My grief-filled memories of my son are closely tied to the uplifting memories of the friends who went out of their way to keep me nourished. If you know anyone who is grieving right now, please consider offering them the gift of truly nourishing food.
Looking back, it was mostly food and friendship that got me through that spring and summer. Food, friendship and garden therapy. I gardened fervently at my parents’ house, planting about an acre of berries and vegetables with much help from my dad. When my friends visited me in the garden, I was happy to share the harvest with them. The sun on my skin and the good food from garden, friends and family worked their magic on me. Somehow I found hope and healing that summer. I learned that gratitude is the antidote to grief.
Trauma hangs on for a while, but good food and gardening go a long way toward healing even the most difficult circumstances. It can be hard to take care of yourself when you are in the midst of grief. It might seem oddly unimportant to take cod liver oil and cook healthy food. I’m telling you from experience, though, these little things make a world of difference. The act of growing or cooking good food is a healing therapy in itself. One of my favorite books during this time was Tear Soup by, which is not literally about making soup, but uses the analogy to help you understand the grieving process. I made many a batch of real tear soup for a good two years after Ty passed away. Every once in a while I still get out the big soup pot for some cooking therapy or to make a batch of nourishing soup for someone else who is struggling. Combine real food with a heaping spoonful of gratitude and a dash of support from friends and family. This is a recipe for healing.