2022 - February - Gazette - Feeding Your Soul

By: Jackie Naginey Hook
Thursday, February 24, 2022

Feeding Your Soul

For many years, I’ve had sensitivities to different foods. For example, I don’t eat pizza. When our kids were younger this resulted in a few humorous moments when they saw other moms eating pizza, causing them great confusion. As far as they knew, moms couldn’t eat pizza.

Because of these food sensitivities, I carefully choose how I feed my body. But it’s more than just food. I am a very sensitive person overall, and things that others might not notice feel huge to me. As a result, I try to carefully choose how I feed all of me -  physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually.

When you’ve lost a loved one, your grief can become a great searchlight, making everything stand out more. You’ll become sensitive to things you didn’t notice before. Consequently, you have to change how you feed yourself. Some important ways to do that are:

  • Physically - eat healthy foods, try to get enough sleep, exercise, go outside and find ways to laugh.
  • Emotionally – move your grief from the inside to the outside, connect with others, practice gratitude and listen to music.
  • Cognitively – be gentle with yourself when your mind temporarily doesn’t work like it did before, set intentions for items to accomplish and consider what you want and what others need from you each day.
  • Spiritually – try to be present in the moment and find ways to help yourself feel fully alive.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive and there is some overlap. In particular, I believe the spiritual dimension is a part of all of the others. And spirituality involves souls. I don’t know about you, but I like to arrange concepts in my head in an orderly way. Souls are one that isn’t easy for me. What is a soul and how is it different from a spirit? Some people use these terms interchangeably, but to me they feel different. Spiritual beliefs and traditions can affect these definitions and there are many people that try to make these distinctions clearer. 

I once heard that souls and spirits are like spider webs – spirits are the strands and souls are the places where the strands connect. I’ve also read that we receive God in our spirits and express God through our souls. These descriptions help me as we consider grief.

I believe souls are broken open in grief but spirits remain intact. Spirits are the hidden wholeness within; they’re always there and never change. But souls need to be fed. What feeds your soul?

The poet Mary Oliver wrote, "This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness." Feeding your soul involves paying attention to the moment and whatever you’re noticing inside and outside of yourself. Souls are shy, but they welcome safe spaces with compassionate listeners. And it takes courage to pay attention to your soul, but the reward is authenticity and a life of harmony between inner beliefs and outer actions. The grief journey can help guide us there as we move from a state of being broken open towards one of healing and wholeness. 

For me, my sensitivity offers both challenges and gifts. We hope you find the same with your grief journey. Even though you’d rather have your loved one back, perhaps at minimum you will feel more compassion for having known the pain of loss.

Our March weekly blog and Virtual Monday’s Moments Gathering will take us further on this discussion of feeding your soul. We invite you to engage with those as well as all of the programs listed below:

For more information, please visit the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page on the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-237-2712 or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH. If there are changes to our in-person gatherings because of COVID, we will provide updates on the website.

Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.

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