Grief, Recipes and Healing


Grief came over me like a flood Saturday morning. I was missing my mom, and the tears came. I think it’s the first time since she died that I’ve been able to let them flow. Though caring for her these past few years had hard days, I miss her.

Grief is real, but sometimes healing comes unexpectedly. On that Saturday morning, some family recipes and stories became a source of light and healing.


grief and healing


Mother loved Cracker Jacks, so every Christmas, I would prepare her a homemade version. I wrapped it in a jar tied with a pretty ribbon, and she was always pleased. I came across the recipe last week while searching for Thanksgiving recipes.

It brought to mind the reality that she would not be with us this Christmas.



Recently my brother asked me if I remembered the recipe for a Christmas punch our dad made when we were growing up. We both enjoyed it, and we tried hard to remember the ingredients. We kept texting back and forth with possibilities.

I knew my aunt had started a cookbook of family recipes with anecdotes. Before she died some years ago, she gave it to my mom to finish for her. Mother could not complete it, but I thought I could find the cookbook among her files. Perhaps the punch recipe would be in it!

Her file cabinet was beside the chair where I was sitting, so I decided to look. There was a folder labeled recipes that was very full, and I began to go through it. One of the first things I found was part of the cookbook! In it, I not only found the punch recipe but also ties to my dad’s past.


Here’s the recipe as I found it. My mom put checkmarks as she entered the recipes into her computer.


As I perused the recipes, I realized that my mom had used some of them, too. Suddenly a photo slipped out from between the papers holding the recipes. It was a picture of my mom from when she worked as a secretary for a Christian school. Seeing it brought more tears.

Yes, my grief is real, but I also found healing unexpectedly. Reading my aunt’s notes and recipes connected me to relatives who have gone on but left a legacy to continue.


I read, I laughed, I felt loved and comforted.




Later I went out to the porch to spend time outside and write about my morning. It was so cold out there I didn’t stay long, but I managed to write a little, then finish the rest inside. The following poem is what came to me.



Grief is strong, coming
at awkward times
not caring about
how I may feel
But healing and light
slip in alongside

Tired and weary with
much to do, but
here I sit on the
front porch swing all
wrapped in hoodie and
blanket trying
to write a few lines

Cold and cloudy, the
sky seems tired, too
Wind blows strong sending
chilly fingers
right through my body
Why am I outside

Picking up my things
journal and pen
I rise to go back
inside where warmth
greets with welcome arms
while I write again

Longing for comfort
I cry aloud
trying to make sense
of everything
Then I remember
God is my stronghold 


I’m linking up with:#MomentsofHope, #ThreeWordWednesday


42 thoughts on “Grief, Recipes and Healing

  1. Love this. This will be my first Christmas without my Dad and I’ve become really intent on gathering some family favorite recipes written in my own mother’s hand writing to preserve for my sister and I. Thanks for sharing! Blessings!

    1. Thank you, Liz. Holidays can be hard when loved ones are missing, especially the first time. What a good idea to collect recipes written in your mother’s handwriting! It’s a wonderful way to connect with the past.

      Blessings to you!

  2. Gayl, Love your thoughts and poems. And yes, grief sneaks up at odd times. My dad died October last year. Have been doing pretty good with grief lately. Then during Thanksgiving weekend my daughter asks how I am doing and suddenly I am crying and missing my dad. It had snuck up again. And it will continue too. I think that is part of dealing with grief. Knowing it will be there for awhile and hitting you at odd moments.

    1. Thank you, Theresa! Yes, it sneaks up when we least expect it sometimes. I lost my dad over 20 years ago, but I still miss him a lot. But it’s best to feel the grief when it comes and keep moving forward rather than trying to suppress it. Sometimes a good cry is just what we need.

      May God bless and comfort you this holiday season. Let’s take hold of the good memories we have. 🙂 {{Hugs}}

  3. Family recipes are like stories – aren’t they – and when I cook I am right there again with my grandmother and my youth, my mother-in-law. Your poem describes the grieving and the missing so well – it sneaks up and surprises us, doesn’t it! I’m so sorry for your loss. Praying that you find comfort in those recipes this holiday season!

    1. Yes, certain recipes can take you back to different moments in time. I love that! Thank you for your encouragement and for your prayers.

      Many blessings to you!

  4. You are so right, Gayl. The holidays can trigger grief but also usher in healing memories. You are inspiring me to love my parents well while I still can. <3 Blessings to you and happy to be visiting from the #RaRa linkup.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Lisa! Yes, enjoy the time you have with your parents. I guess sometimes grief is stronger around the holidays because of the memories there. But, yes, those memories can also bring healing.

      Many blessings to you and may God give you comfort this holiday season!

  5. Gayl, I’m sorry for your loss this year–thank you for sharing such heartfelt thoughts! The lines of your poem: “healing and light slip in alongside,” have become so true for me too. I think that absence takes a long time to feel real sometimes. But those family recipes and memories contain the joy of the shared life locked within them. What a treasure you have to be able to look through them all, a little at a time. I know that I have been blessed to look through many of my Mom’s writings as well. God is so good to us, as He carries us step by step. Blessings and Hugs to you!

    1. Thank you, dear Bettie! Yes, sometimes we just don’t want to think about the absence of a loved one, but those feelings of grief have to come out. I’m thankful that God is with us each step of the way.

      Many blessings to you with love and hugs! xo

  6. Prayers for you sweet, Gayl. The poem is lovely! I think it is awesome you siblings can chat about recipes and concoct together. Reading things like this remind me to treasure my mom all the more while I have her with me. xoxoxo

    1. Thank you for your prayers, dear Meghan! Yes, I love the fact that my brothers and I can just send a text any time.

      So often we do tend to take our parents for granted and we live as though they will always be with us. Death comes and we have to face it, but we can have peace that we will see our loved ones again one day. Thank you for stopping by, Meghan!

      Many blessings to you! xo

  7. Gayl, I am sorry for your loss and the grief which comes at varied times. I dread the day I will be without either of my parents. Both of my in-laws are now gone and I have all my MIL’s cookbooks. It is amazing the memories which come whenever I go through them. Thank you for sharing these words and may God continue to bring you His comfort!

    1. Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement, Joanne. It really is amazing the memories we can find in something so ordinary as a recipe. I’m glad you stopped by today. 🙂

      Blessings to you!

  8. Gayl, I love how our poem gives the road map for how your grief led you to God’s comfort and love.
    Thanks for this poignant post – so full of memory and wisdom!

  9. Gayl, just lovely and I know exactly what happened to you that morning. It just suddenly comes over and we cry a zillion tears. And, right now I have my old recipe box up here in my office and in the front of it ??? My mom’s recipes in her big scrawly handwriting!!! TREASURE. PRECIOUS. GIFT. (((♥)))

    1. Thank you so much, Susan! I know you understand as you have also lost your mother. Yes, those recipes are definitely a treasure. I actually have one recipe written by my grandmother years ago which I will cherish. I don’t have much in her handwriting so it is very special.

      Blessings to you! xo

  10. This is beautiful Susan and so true. As one who has suffered loss, the moments God steps in and offers healing alongside the hurt can carry a grieving person a long way. Thank you making your self vulnerable and at the same time offering reassurance God is always right there! Blessings to you !

    1. Thank you for your comments, Elizabeth! I’m so glad God is always with us. We never have to go through anything alone when He is living in us. What a blessing!

      Blessings to you and thanks for stopping by!

  11. What a beautiful poem, Gayl, and you’re right about the memories that come flooding back when we do things related to our long gone loved ones. I was just recently reminded of my mom who died 14 years ago. I feel like I moved through grief years ago, but found myself crying bucket loads over one small reminder! It shocked me, to be honest. They may be gone but forgotten. I’m so glad you have these recipes to recreate the sights and smells of your mom’s love from years ago.

    1. Thank you, Beth. It is interesting how certain things can remind us how much we miss loved ones who have died. I lost my dad over 20 years ago and I still miss him so much.

      Yes, I’m glad we have good memories and recipes and blessings!

      Blessings to you! Have a great rest of your week!

  12. I can’t imagine losing my mom, but I am so happy that there are pieces of her I will never be without. Thank you for seeing a way to encourage others in spite of your grief. Happy Holidays!

    1. I did have my mom for a very long time. She was 93 when she died last April. But there are good memories, many from long ago, and you’re right, there are pieces of her I won’t ever be without. I have some of her things like jewelry and dishes and crocheted and knitted things that she made.

      Thank you for stopping by and for encouraging me with your words.

      Blessings to you, Sarah!

  13. Dear Gayl! OH, how my heart breaks with yours! It is so odd, because the post I read right before your post reminded me of my Mom, and I got to missing her so much. I don’t think the grief ever really ends…there will always be this hole in our hearts, where once a mother’s love abode. Jesus called my dear mother home to Heaven in 2012, and on some days, it feels like it was yesterday. I was the one who took care of her, too, so I can so relate to all that you said. I am SO thankful you found these recipes and were able to take comfort in this connection with your past. May the God of all comfort be ever near your dear heart and hold you extra close while you grieve. Sending you love and hugs and much compassion.

    1. Thank you for your empathy, Cheryl! I think you’re right about the grief never really ending, but we can also have joy that our loved ones are with Jesus and we will see them again. We almost lost my mom in 2012, but she regained strength and lived 4 more years. I lost my dad over 20 years ago, but I still miss him a lot.

      Thank you so much for your compassion and prayers! Love and hugs to you, too. May God also bring you continued comfort in your times of grief.

      Many blessings to you, dear Cheryl! xo

  14. Gayle, what a beautiful poem. My family recipes are treasures. We are still trying to get our parents to write certain ones down for us before it’s too late. Oh the grief is real but the healing comes, in waves, and comes again and again. Hugs to you my friend!

    1. Thank you, Barbie! Yes, keep trying to have your parents write them down. It will be such a comfort later on to have those favorite recipes in their own handwriting. 🙂

      You are right, both grief and healing come in waves. I’m glad to have friends and family and God to be with me through those times.

      Hugs and blessings to you, dear Barbie!

  15. Thank you for sharing your emotions with us so authentically. Grief is messy and definitely comes at unexpected times. There is hope for healing as we offer our sorrows to the Lord. Praying God will comfort you during the holiday season. He is faithful! Visiting from #sittingamongfriends today.

    1. Thank you for your encouraging comments, Angela! You’re right, grief is messy. I’m so glad we can carry our sorrows to God and He gives comfort and healing, sometimes in unexpected ways.

      Thank you for your prayers. Many blessings to you!

  16. Gayl, grief does hit unexpectedly but what a comfort when healing memories come too. Praying for you today, sweet friend. And those handwritten notes and even checkmarks by those we remember – treasures. xoxo

    1. Yes, I was kind of surprised by the grief but also surprised by the way the comfort came. I’m so glad I found such a treasure of recipes.

      Thank you so much for your prayers, dear Crystal! Many blessings to you! xo

  17. Praying for you, friend, in this holiday season as you miss your mother. Praying for the continued healing and more little moments that usher in healing.

  18. Thank-you for sharing this lovely post. I’m so sorry for your loss. The Christmas cookie recipe that I used to make with my mother every year until she passed sits framed in kitchen. I agree that traditions and shared recipes somehow bring a healing balm to our souls. Thank-you.

    1. Thank you, Brooke. What a wonderful idea to have framed that recipe! Every time you see it you will have those memories fresh in your mind. It seems amazing that such a small thing as a recipe could bring back so much, but it does and has healing, too.

      Many blessings to you! Have a great weekend!

  19. Grief can hit at the strangest times. Although this is our second season without Dad, it’s feeling more like the first. I think part of that is because we didn’t really celebrate last year, and his memorial service was just two short months ago. I love how your grief story moved to happy memories and healing moments, Gayl. Praying for His comfort over you during this season. Blessings!

    1. Yes, it comes when we least expect it. I know you must miss your dad esp. having had the memorial service so recently. It’s hardest around holiday times, I think. I lost my dad over 20 years ago and we still miss him.

      Thank you for your prayers, dear June. Many blessings to you! xo

  20. This is awesome! I love this because truly waves of mourning can hit it when we least expect them.
    Blessings as you ‘enjoy missing’ your Mom. It’s been six years since my Mom moved to Heaven and I miss her ‘arroz con pollo.’

    1. Thank you so much, Karen! I love the way you describe it as to ‘enjoy missing’ my mom. That’s really the way it is. The grief is real and the tears come, but the joy in the remembering is so good.

      Blessings to you and continued comfort when you experience the grief!

  21. I really appreciate your post. Traditions, recipes and Holiday memories are bittersweet for me too. My mom and grandparents have been gone for 6 years now. I miss them terribly and find myself pulling recipes of theirs to make throughout the Holiday’s.

    Thank you for validating how important family and traditions are. Merry Christmas

    1. I’m sorry for your loss. I know you still miss them a lot. My dad has been gone for over 20 years and I still miss him, so finding that punch recipe was healing for me. It was something my dad did every Christmas.

      I’m glad you’re finding recipes of theirs. I think it helps just a little in helping us feel like they are with us.

      Thank you for stopping by. I pray God will comfort and that you will have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

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