Grief Donuts

February 13, 2013 in grief, self-coaching, tough love


There is no denying that people spring forth from grief/heartbreak/devastation in extraordinary ways.  Think of noble causes started in the wake of tragedies.  Of people steering heartbreak and loneliness in the direction of awareness and enlightenment.  Of businesses built, creations created, and discoveries discovered from rock bottom.

People spring back.  Always have.  Always will.
I love that.

But one thing I’m not so hot on, is the way people credit their ultimate work, discovery, awareness, to the pain.

“Well it’s good I hated my body so much or I would’ve never changed my habits.”

“I started the charity after I lost ______ to _______, so you could say I owe my life’s work to my greatest suffering.”

“I guess it’s good that I feel so bad about this ‘cause at least it means I still have a soul.”

With all due respect, no.  Your grief, your pain, your ache did a very important thing: it smacked you upside the soul with an emotional 2×4.  It tilted your world on an axis without warning and forced you to see it differently.  It demanded your attention and waited for a reaction.  It did not, however, raise funds for your walk-a-thon, sign your gym membership, or create your soul.  You did that.  You.

You processed your grief, or felt it, or examined it. And from that you came to a new set of thoughts, feelings, and choices.  To a new story.  But your grief did not write it.  You did.

So why the donuts?

Oh Sweet Jesus yum.

Oh Sweet Jesus yum.


Imagine a donut not unlike the one above (drool).  One with filling (double drool).  We’ll say it’s Boston cream, or Bavarian crème if you’re fancy.  The cake of the donut is your pain…your grief or outrage or devastation.  The cream filling (drool) is the good stuff at the core: love, awareness, enlightenment, motivation to act.  So you’ve eaten your donut (felt your pain) and have arrived at the cream filling (nom).  Yes, eating the cake is how you got to the center, but here is what I want you to remember about the filling: it was there before you ate anything.  The act of eating the donut did not create the cream filling. That part was there the whole time, waiting to be found and gobbled.

Pain is sneaky.  It can lead us in directions that wind up at incredible insight.  And that insight can call us to new feeling, new action, new results.  But we are not indebted to our pain for what it leads us to.  Pain is not an active force.  It cannot move your hand to sign a check, or lift your feet to go for a run, or open a book, or pick up a phone.  Only you can do that.

So, when you get to the center of your pain – where all the good stuff lives – you get to enjoy that.  You do not need to share it with your pain.  You need only to say “thank you for guiding me to this spot…I got it from here,” and send it on its way. And once you do, let that delicious, loving center be your new guide.  Because you deserve to make choices from love instead of from pain.  And because you do not owe your pain anything.