Know When It’s Time to Bring Cake

Debbie Vallandingham, LMSW-ASCW Director of Grief Care Services

September 28, 2021

When the Waves of Grief Hit

When grief hits, you may feel overwhelmed. It is every feeling you could possibly have and, unfortunately, most of them all at once. When you’re in that situation, you often want to call in the cavalry. You want to surround yourself with people who you know and trust. People who can help you deal with this.

But then you get a flood of advice: you need to get some sleep; you need to pray; you need exercise; you need to get out of the house. You’re likely to get all sorts of conflicting advice. In Forget Prayers, Bring Cake: A Single Woman’s Guide to Grieving, the author Merissa Gerson tells the story of the advice she received from a friend as her father was dying. Her friend, an avid runner, told Merissa that she should start going to yoga every single day or she wouldn’t be able to handle the stress. So, she started to go to yoga daily. But then as grief set in, she couldn’t make class every day.

At that point, she blamed herself for both not going to class and for having feelings associated with grief. As Merissa said, at some point she realized that grief “was bigger than not being able to go to exercise class. I found that hating myself for not doing downward dog every day made it harder to drop into the real sadness I was experiencing. Weeping was an important medicine … how had I accidentally let someone add a layer of guilt to my sadness?”

It was then she realized that the recommendation wasn’t meant for her life – it was meant for her friend; it was for her friend’s daily routine; her spiritual practice; her body.

Nobody knows you but you. Do you.

Although everyone is going to have advice for you, they cannot make all of the decisions for you. You need to “listen, most deeply,” to yourself. Your friends may be offering helpful advice that fits your needs, or they may not. Consider their recommendations and know what works best for you. You can integrate many practices as you experience grief, but you must choose what is most helpful whether it is:

  • Mindfulness practice and meditation
  • Walks in nature
  • Exercise or yoga
  • Attending group or individual counseling

And if that need happens to include cake, just remember – you do you!


While feelings of grief are normal, handling them can be difficult and painful. Talking about what you are going through can help. Call 734.779.6690 to schedule an appointment. Or click here for our grief support calendar.

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