How This Blogger Is Using Food To Heal From Grief (And Starting A Movement In The Process)

When Lindsay Ostrom announced her pregnancy, her audience was jubilant. One of the most popular food bloggers, the founder of Pinch of Yum had garnered millions of readers and followers for her decadent, nourishing food and the candid way she shares her Midwestern life, from her doting husband and business partner, Bjork, and adorable pup, Sage, to the humanitarian work she moved to the Philippines for.

In October, when she shared a smiling picture of her, Bjork, and a sonogram, her readers filled the comments with messages and love and excitement. In December, she shared the baby's gender—a boy!—and mirror selfies of her now quite visible bump. In late December, a new post appeared on her site: "An Urgent Baby Update." In it, she shared how a regular scheduled doctor's visit had revealed that her body was trying to go into labor—and it was too early for the baby to be viable. "If I deliver within the next few days, his chances of surviving at all, much less without major lifetime health complications, are extremely low," she wrote. "This is not how we want to be experiencing pregnancy and birth and newborn life, and it's jarring and hard. We're letting go of what now seems like such a dream for a "normal" pregnancy and a "normal" baby and embracing what's happening right here in front of us. But forward is the only way. So one day, one hour, one minute at a time."

On January 9, a new post appeared on her Instagram feed.

Introducing our perfect baby, Afton Bjork Ostrom, who was born on December 31, 2016, and who left this world peacefully, laying skin-to-skin in the arms of his mommy and daddy, surrounded by pure love in the early morning hours of January 1, 2017. . In the midst of our deep sorrow, we are so full of awe and wonder for having experienced just a tiny taste of his precious sweetness this side of heaven. The moment they placed him skin-to-skin on my chest, something inside of me locked into place. I felt his tiny heart beating right over mine, and in an instant, I knew I loved him more than life itself. It was the most profound moment of my life. In our short time, we fell in love with being his parents. We touched all his fingers and toes, we kissed his sweet, perfect face, and we whispered "I love you's" into his tiny little ears so he could hear and know our voices as we held him and let him go. . These moments we had with sweet Afton are also making the ache of losing him all the more crushing. We got just a taste, but we so badly wanted a lifetime of this perfect love. It’s a depth of loss that I've never known – where something so tangibly a part of you is suddenly gone. You can feel that searing emptiness right there in your own body. Afton has left his forever mark on us, and it's our honor to wear that deep scar as the evidence that he was here and he was loved. We'll carry that ache with us for the rest of our lives until we meet him again someday. . You're forever perfect and forever loved, baby boy. We'll always, always, always be your mommy and daddy, and you'll always be our sweet Afton. #sweetaftonboy . ----- Bjork and I are going to be taking some time off for a while. Our Pinch of Yum team will be maintaining this account until later in January or early February when I'm back to work again. I will be posting more about Afton / our journey on my Instagram stories, and on my personal account, @lindsaymostrom . More pictures of Afton's life and story: . Thank you for your genuine love for us and for our baby Afton. 💙 Your comments and emails are more than internet deep. They are a balm to our broken souls.

A post shared by Pinch of Yum (@pinchofyum) on

She stopped posting for a while then, save for a series addressing her son directly. Many (myself included) wondered how she would—how she could—go back to posting taco skillet dinners and sweet potato casseroles after what she'd been through. And then she introduced her new series: Feeding a Broken Heart.

"In the days and weeks after our son Afton passed away, I found myself unable to eat. How do you eat when you have a broken heart? Your body practically forgets," she wrote. "Exactly one day after being home from the hospital, friends started showing up at our house with food. ONE DAY. This food was a lifeline. These acts of love put warm, sustaining food in front of me, and that food tethered me to real life. It was through soup, cookies, salads, and little cheesy homemade pizza rolls that I was able to find my way again, both physically and emotionally."

She then introduced the concept of Feeding a Broken Heart. "It would be such an honor to Afton’s memory to have you, the food lovers, show up and share food with the people in your lives who are hurting," she wrote. The rules?

  1. Think of someone who has a broken heart.
  2. Make them one of these recipes. Or if you don't live close, mail them a restaurant or meal delivery gift card. Snail mail them a chocolate bar. No rules here—just lots of love.
  3. Show us what you're doing by using the hashtag #feedingabrokenheart.

And, she added, "if the broken heart is yours, you can make some of this food for yourself. That totally counts."

And people heeded her call to action, and the call to heal—and spread healing—through the immense comfort of food. On the hashtag #feedingabrokenheart, there are stories of sudden deaths, of cancer, of love lost, self-flagellation, and self-forgiveness. There are stories that will make you laugh, and stories that will make you cry, and, of course, there is food. We know food can heal a body—we talk about it all the time here on mbg—but these stories are proof that food can heal a soul. Below, a few that touched us. Check out #feedingabrokenheart for the rest of the posts.

Vegetarian sushi rolls with quinoa for my bestie who lost her loved one recently! #feedingabrokenheart My dear friend who planned her most awaited trip to her home country to meet her family was devastated when she heard the news of her dad's sudden demise due to cardiac arrest. Her ordeal just didn't end there.. she couldn't even take a flight to attend his dad's funeral because her 4 yr old was not granted an emergency Visa.. healing from a loss of loved one is always hard. When I came to know about the #feedingabrokenheart series, I knew that I am gonna make something for my friend. For my sushi lover friend, I dedicate this dish of vegetarian sushi and I wish and hope this comfort food helps her to heal soon..

A post shared by My Dainty Soul (@mydaintysoulcurree) on

I am writing this with a heavy heart. Tomorrow I will be driving to Raleigh to comfort my son. His college suitemate and close friend passed away yesterday. He had an asthma attack on Saturday which resulted in cardiac arrest. He was flown to Duke Medical center and put in an induced coma. They discovered because of the loss of oxygen, he no longer had any brain activity. The family took him off support and let him pass on his own. I can't imagine what his family must be going through. So tragic to loose someone so young and who was just beginning to make his own mark on the world as a brilliant young adult. We will be going to the family's home town for the funeral, but first I will fill my sons freezer with some of his moms home cooked love. To feed his broken heart. I need to have him in my arms for a nice big hug and good cry. I will be making him my chicken tetrazzini, leaving him this creamy warm comfort food for when he just doesn't feel like leaving the dorm room to go to the dining hall. I hope he can take comfort in something from home. I have been moved and brought to tears reading Lindsay's ( @pinchofyum ) journey she went through loosing her baby boy. This is also to honer her loss and her #feedingabrokenheart series. I posted this recipe @earthfare's blog a couple months ago if you are interested in making it for someone you might know who needs a little extra love.

A post shared by Claudia • The Traveling Spoon (@thetravelingspoonchef) on

Now more than ever, I miss my mother and I miss my country. Some of you may know that she's currently undergoing cancer treatment and it's been so hard on all of us, especially her because she is a woman of immense strength and temerity. I know she has the strength to slay the beast but that doesn't mean my heart is any less broken for her. June cannot come soon enough, where I'll be amongst the banana plants and their tender green leaves, the mango trees laden with green-golden fruit and the sound of my parents voices as they talk about what a terrible toddler I was. For now, I'll have to make to with eating these crispy hot "Chinese Rolls" as we call them in Sri Lanka (although oddly enough none of the Chinese restaurants back home actually serve these!) and drinking a strong cup of ginger plain tea. And I will now leave you with a small life hack on how to make these rolls as crispy as the Krest rolls we get back home (Sri Lankans will know what I'm referring to!): Always breadcrumb with Panko for the crispiest finish. Once the rolls are made, freeze them for 2-3 hours for firmness, and then fry them straight from frozen. Crispiest results ever! • • • • • #srilanka #srilankanfood #srilankancuisine #srilankancooking #foodphotography #food #foodporn #foodpic #foodphoto #foodpics #foodie #foodlovers #adelaide #adelaidefoodie #foodpornshare #foodstagram #feedfeed #buzzfeed #buzzfeedfood #vsco #f52grams #vscocam #vscofood #instafood #eatlocal #foodblogger #canon #chineserolls #feedingabrokenheart

A post shared by Sav (@savisquishles) on

Broccoli Cauliflower Nuggets. One of my favorite recipes. I am sharing this recipe with @lindsaymostrom from @pinchofyum because she just started a series called #feedingabrokenheart Many of you who follow my blog know that I have a 6 year old son who was born with a rare birth defect in his esophagus. 3 weeks in the NICU and a major surgery when he was only 1 day old saved his life. When he started eating solids he had trouble with so many foods. My heart was broken and my husband and I started looking at ways to make food easy for him to eat without getting it stuck at the surgery site. My husband was actually the one who came up with this recipe idea. And my son totally loved them. Not only he could eat them without problems but we were able to incorporate veggies into his diet. He couldn't eat any fruits or veggies even cut in very small pieces until he was 3 years old! And just like this recipe, we came up with many others, building a collection of recipes that were safe for him to eat. We also shared them in our esophageal atresia support group to help other families. This is why I started this blog. Recipes to feed a broken heart. My heart. Watching him eat without problems and progressing into more solid foods and other textures helped me heal. It helped relieved the anxiety and constant worry. I used to worry at every single meal! He is now 6 and can eat almost everything without problems. Yay! We still monitor him closely when he eats but for the most part, he can now enjoy many many foods.

A post shared by Creative & Healthy Family (@creativehealthyfamily) on

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