Baking Therapy

While not a therapist per se, what I do in the way of grief counseling borders on traditional therapy. It is my own spiritual variety. There are always plenty of takers in any given community. People experience hardship, grief, and loss on a regular basis and their souls need tending. They need attention of various kinds. Sometimes it is a pep talk on the highest level and sometimes it just means doing something together for distraction. A case in point is a young girl in my flock who lost her mother. There is nothing more devastating and the young can hardly bear the pain like mature adults can. You have to approach children in unique ways. I had the idea to schedule a baking session with her so she could get her woes off her mind. I thought it would keep her busy and that we could talk a bit as we worked so it wouldn’t be an obvious and intimidating counseling session.

I arranged to meet her at her home and once I entered the premises, I sought that she had immediately set up the kitchen. I saw on the countertop a mixing bowl and spoon, cupcake tins, an assortment of ingredients like baking powder, flour, milk, eggs, and vanilla. I also saw a nice hand mixer that we would use to make our task easier. She certainly was well equipped and well prepared. I knew that once we started and got into the baking process, she would open up and talk about her feelings. Within a half hour, amidst the frenzy of icing the baked goods, she expressed her experience of pain at the loss of her mother. She said that baking was something they did together. Her mother enjoyed cooking and baking in particular and she often let her daughter help.

This was a good memory. When going through the process of grief, it is not best to suppress the past. Fond recollections help ease the pain. One of the fears of those experiencing loss is that they will forget the loved one. The more you reminisce, the more you remember the person and the details of their face and demeanor. I think our cupcake baking session was an occasion for the young girl to do this. She mentioned her mother frequently. “Mom liked to do it this way…. Mom used this flavoring for the icing…Mom let me lick the bowl…Mom was the best…” The baking session, while unique to us, conjured up her love for her mother. She felt closer to her as a result. I was appropriately pleased. If necessary, I would come once again for another cupcake day and continue the counseling. Counseling isn’t just sitting down in an office one on one. It can take place while you perform mundane tasks or are talking about a different subject. This just goes to show you how personal counseling is. You have to tailor it to the person’s degree of grief, age, and emotional level at the time.