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.

Leave a comment
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.


Please wait

Previous Posts

2023 - January - Gazette - Choices in the care of the deceased

Choices in the care of the deceased I received a call from the daughter of a 96-year-old woman who had died. The daughter was looking for someone to officiate at her mother’s funeral service,...

2023 - January - Town & Gown - Loss, Grief, Gratitude and Humor

Loss, Grief, Gratitude and Humor When I was invited to write a piece for the Pink Zone insert, I wondered what I could say to be helpful. I have never had breast cancer or been treated with c...

2022 - December - Gazette - Resolutions or Intensions

Resolutions or Intentions I’ve never been a person who is drawn to making New Year’s resolutions. Primarily because if I want to make a change in myself, I’ll make the change when I realize I want...

2022 - December - Gazette - 2nd Annual Luminaria Memorial Display

 2nd Annual Luminaria Memorial Display Last New Year’s Eve, I picked up my parents from their local retirement community and took them for a drive in search of a very special light show. As i...

2022 - November - Gazette - What Really Matters

What Really Matters “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” As we begin this holiday season, I invite all of us to contemplate these words from writer Annie Dillard. How do ...

2022 - November - CNN - Dogs know just when we need them most ...

We're grateful to Madeline Holcombe with CNN for including Koch Funeral Home and Monroe, our grief therapy dog, in her story about how dogs impact grief. Thank you, Madeline! Read more here. 

2022 - November - Town & Gown - Funerals Provide Support and Help Us Heal

Funerals Provide Support and Help Us Heal We shared stories about this veteran’s life, listened to his favorite music and said a prayer. After leaving the funeral home, we gathered at the gravesid...

2022 - October - Gazette - Healing Through the Holidays

  Healing Through the Holidays Growing up, my older sister had a poster of a sad clown in her bedroom with the words, “Share with me my sadness and I’ll share with you my joy.” That sentimen...

2022 - October - CDT - Active Life - Allowing Nature to Help Us Heal

Allowing Nature to Help Us Heal  “Instead of seeing natural things as merely objects to be used, we must allow nature to enchant us.” These words of writer and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr ...

2022 - September - Gazette - The Work of a Funeral Director

The Work of a Funeral Director I had the honor and privilege of traveling around Pennsylvania for two weeks this September making presentations to funeral directors at the Pennsylvania Funeral Dir...