Grief Ceremony for Donuts


For most of my life, I was skinny. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Then I turned 40 and suddenly everything I ate stuck to me like hot tar.

Especially things like donuts.

Oh, how I loved donuts. Going to the donut shop and seeing them all displayed on the shelves – covered in glaze or chocolate or sprinkles – always made me happy. I’d sit in the shop at a table by the window, drink coffee and eat my donuts as I watch the world go by. It was my favorite Sunday morning ritual.

But then, things changed.

I’d eat a donut and afterwards, feel sick and lethargic. I still WANTED to eat the donuts, but every time I did, I regretted it.

The whole thing got depressing.

When did I stop being the skinny kid who could eat whatever she wanted? How did I turn into this middle aged woman who could put on 5 pounds just walking BY the donut shop?

I resented the passage of time that was “robbing” me of my vices and I lamented that I wasn’t going to be around forever.

That’s a lot to put on a donut.

Maybe for you, it’s not donuts. Maybe it’s something else. Something you used to love or enjoy or whatever and now, it’s no longer an option for you. But you’re older, hopefully wiser and you recognize that some things just have no place in your life anymore.

Which isn’t to say that it’s an easy transition or you don’t feel conflicted.

What gets most of us in trouble though is that we don’t deal with the conflict. You know something isn’t good for you anymore (bad relationships, food that isn’t nourishing in any sense of the word, old memories that continually connect you to the pain and suffering of the past) but the idea of dealing with it feels like it’s going to be even more painful so you take the easy way out and just ignore it.

Except, like the Great Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean, it doesn’t go away.

The problem is that we don’t have good system for grieving. We’ve lost connection to the rituals that allow us to express our truth in ways that actually heal. We’re told to “just get over it”, or “time heals all wounds”. But the truth is, not acknowledging the suffering actually makes it worse. What we resist, persists.

So, back to the donuts.

I realized that in order to let go of the donuts, I had to acknowledge what was really going on. That I was older, that my body was older. I wasn’t who I used to be anymore – and that was okay.

I needed to grieve for my younger self and for all the donuts (real and metaphorical) I would never eat again. And what I needed was a ritual to make it happen.

Why a ritual?

In an article in Yoga Journal, author Katie Silcox said it best:

“Because a ritual returns you to what matters. The very act of beginning a ritual puts us in a state of mind where we can break with the routine patterns of the mundane and remember the sacred.” Mar 16, 2012 Yoga Journal / Katie Silcox

What mattered most to me was that I could honor that part inside me that felt sad about the passage of time Rather than chide myself for the way I felt or worse, pretend I wasn’t feeling what I was feeling (a guarantee that I would keep eating donuts!),

I chose to bring focus to what was true for me in that moment, knowing that by calling it forth and honoring it, I could release it and get closure.

Exactly the sort of thing that rituals were created for.

So I went out and bought a carefully chosen baker’s dozen. Sprinkles, maple bars, old fashions, one with glaze, one with chocolate. French, crullers…a big pink box full of enough sugar and fat to put me in a diabetic coma.

I took the box home and laid them out on a beautiful platter. Then I carried them out into the backyard, where I had spread a picnic blanket on the grass, next to some empty flower beds.
I spent some time remembering all the late night runs in my teens to the donut shop. All the Sunday mornings with coffee and the paper.

I cried for the fact that I wasn’t 20, or 30 or even 40 anymore and that things I could do then, I can’t do now.

I cried for all the mistakes I made; all the bad choices. I cried because I’m human and I’ll probably make more mistakes but now, because I AM older, I’ll be able to recognize that there is no failure, only information and that everything is an opportunity for learning.

When I felt like I had let it all go, I dug a hole in the ground and buried those donuts.

I’ve never eaten one since.


© 2015 Shannon Presson

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