Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Comfort in grief March 26, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:26 AM
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Not the soup I made, but used here for illustration purposes only. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I CHOPPED AND COOKED my way through grief. Onions and celery. Potatoes and carrots. I gripped the knife, chunking vegetables onto a cutting board. Then I dumped the mix into a pot of boiling chicken broth. I grabbed a second kettle, poured milk into a measuring cup, stirred a white sauce thick and bubbly, added cheddar cheese and chicken before combining contents of the two pots. Comfort in a kettle of simmering soup.

Next, I pulled molasses from the cupboard. Shortening, too, and flour and brown sugar and baking soda and salt and an array of spices. I combined and mixed and baked my way through grief. Comfort on a cookie sheet lined with old-fashioned gingersnaps scented of cinnamon and a grandmother’s kitchen.

And then, when the soup had cooled some, the cookies, too, I packaged both for delivery. Comfort for friends. But for me, too. There is something about the act of preparing and bringing food to a grieving family that offers solace in the midst of unfathomable pain. For the giver and the recipient.

On my way with Randy to deliver this tangible comfort, I felt angst rising. I prayed for the right words to say to our friends. “I’m sorry.” Two simple words—three if you consider the contraction—sufficed. And hugs.

And as we talked in the farmhouse living room, I noticed the landscape through the wide windows—how the grey sky met the grey earth, mimicking the grey of grief.

But I noticed, too, the cross hanging on an adjacent wall, the word JESUS bold and beautiful. Comfort. For me. For those parents who, like me, find peace in our faith.

We laughed over photos. And remembered. And grief vanished for a moment or three before we hugged again, the bagged gingersnaps lying on the dining room table next to an ice cream bucket brimming with the comfort of soup.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “Comfort in grief”

  1. A tough subject, beautifully, and lovingly written Audrey. Very sweet and touching.

  2. david wassink Says:

    soli deo Gloria John 14 : 27

  3. Kevin Kreger Says:

    Yesterday morning when the congregation was asked, in a joking way, if we were tired, I thought to myself, no, just sad. Immensely sad.

  4. Jackie Says:

    So sorry to hear of a loss which has not only affected your friend but you and Randy as well. I will pray for comfort and peace for the days ahead.

  5. chlost Says:

    It seems an almost automatic response to want to feed those who are suffering. And in doing so, we feed ourselves as well. Food, love, companionship and support are all that we can really offer. It is never truly enough.

  6. Bella Says:

    sorry for your loss and it is comforting for us to help in anyway we can for a grieving family and being compassionate is a fine attribute to think of others

  7. ~~~~gorgeous, stunning piece.
    I understand abundantly & clearly & too much.
    I love this so much, Audrey. xxx

  8. Littlesundog Says:

    I am sorry for your loss. Food is such a thoughtful gift of comfort and compassion. And you are right about working your way through the grief by keeping busy. I had an elderly neighbor who said her mother told her the best medicine for feeling better (when you were grieving or feeling sorry for yourself) was to keep your hands busy baking and then to gift the food to someone. It works!

  9. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    You really have a way with words. Such a beautiful way of saying I’m sorry and I made you soup and cookies. I remember how nice it was to not have to think about cooking a meal. I’m sure that your kindness was appreciated

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