Cakes and Grief

August 16, 2022

I hate ordering cakes. Absolutely hate it. 

You see, cakes were my mother’s thing– her passion, her act of love, her gift of deliciousness she’d bring to every celebration, every birthday, every chance to brighten someone’s day with her beautiful creations. 

And the truth is, they weren’t just cakes. They were masterpieces, built by love and crafted with the patience of the most selfless woman I’ve ever known. 

Until my mother passed I had never purchased a cake, cookies, or really any bakery item, ever. As in, never ever. Anytime I needed something sweet and tasty, she was my first call. And she did it gladly, usually even better and well-executed than what I’d asked for. She was amazing like that, most mothers are.

So when she passed I found myself in need of not only her, but all of her traditions that she brought with her. I found myself in need of ordering a cake. 

Easy task, right? Should be fairly simple. How difficult can it be to call and place an order for a cake?

Except it was difficult. It is difficult. Grief complicates things.

It’s difficult when it means starting something new in the midst of loss. 

It’s difficult when you’re letting go of something you’ve had your entire life, something your children have had all of their lives. 

It’s difficult when it won’t feel the same, taste the same or look the same because it won’t be made by her.

It’s difficult when you’re forced into new beginnings and new experiences when you still haven’t accepted that things are different now, forever changed without your choice.

It’s difficult when it’s not just the cake but what the cake symbolizes, her and her love.

Grief shifts mundane tasks from effortless to complex and difficult. Grief complicates things by adding emotional elements to even the most straightforward task. 

Things that were manageable and uncomplicated before are now delicately braided with loss, reminiscence and the ache of a forever absence. 

For me, it’s ordering cakes. For you it might be something else, something that signifies that special and one-of-a-kind influence your mother or father held for you. 

You’re not weak if something feels more difficult to accomplish now.

You’re not a burden when you need help handling new traditions and situations. 

You’re not any less brave or strong or capable because simple things are now heavy.

You’re grieving.

Remember that when you’re crying as you order a cake, or upset as you walk through the card aisle, or become tearful as you walk past the fishing gear, or sad or angry or drained as you encounter an empty space where someone you loved used to fill. 

No one told me the way grief can overwhelm even the simplest of tasks, so I’m telling you.

You’re grieving. Be easy with yourself.

And can someone please order me a cake?

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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