Grocery Store Grieving

For weeks I stood in the grocery store and cried.  Usually it happened in the produce aisle, but sometimes it happened at the deli counter or in front of the calcium fortified orange juice. Casually I would wipe the tears away as I tried to make weeping in a supermarket look like the most natural thing in the world.

I hadn’t seen this coming and so it hit me like a two by four.  My eldest had gone to college so I no longer bought berries or sliced turkey or clementines.  My map of the grocery store, laid down by decades of my family’s eating habits had been brutally altered and I had no idea this change would cause to me cry in public standing between the honey crisp apples and non-organic raspberries looking like a fool.

Then a second less-healthy-eating son left for school and I steered clear of the aisles that contained baked Lays potato chips, Bagel Bites pizzas and frankly anything that can be eaten out of a microwave at 2am.  Outside of the grocery store I was okay with my older boys having left for college but once I crossed the threshold of the A&P, things were not good.  I started shopping less, not great news for either my high school son or husband, and ordering in take out food or dashing into corner markets and just grabbing what we absolutely needed.

And then they were coming home.  Thanksgiving was upon us and for five days I would have three starving teen-age boys.  So I ventured back, wandered freely among the aisles, filling and then ultimately overfilling my shopping cart with more food than they could possibly eat in weeks.  It was a bit of a squirrel maneuver as I stored up food that would last long after they were back in their dorms. Even the checkout clerk was a little astonished as she rang up the total.  I began to realize that when it came to my family and food, I had lost the plot.  To avoid feeling sad, I had avoided buying groceries as if that would make my boys small again.   Many family rituals come to a predictable, perhaps timely,  end.   But others, the little daily patterns of life, can simply take you by surprise.

About Grown and Flown

Parenting from the Empty Nest
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7 Responses to Grocery Store Grieving

  1. Cindy L says:

    I went through this the year my son left home for college. Writing about it was very therapeutic. Allowing yourself to grieve is healthy, then take time to explore a hobby, art, craft, or sport that you always put off when you were busy being a mom. It helps!

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog today. And for letting me know there’s a place for me! (Can you hear me singing that in my best Maria voice?)

    I cry all the time in the grocery store. For some reason, it’s the weird place my feelings of grief over losing my mother (a year ago) always hit me. I’ll pick up some item for a recipe she used to cook, and be overcome. How good to know I’ll just keep crying at Kroger through the empty nest years! 🙂

    Seriously, so glad to find you. I’ll be back!

  3. janedeb says:

    I can really relate to the food trolley grief. I thought I hated all that endless shopping, and at the time I did. But now when I purchase what seems like such a small amount of food I feel sad. As I go past all the ridiculous junk/fast food items that used to be in the trolley, I miss it, and then of course it follows that I miss them, with a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. I miss caring for them, thinking about their little foibles and differences and all the special things that only they liked. Thank goodness for holidays and high days, when we get the chance to fill up the trolley and overflow the fridge and cook up a storm. Roll on Easter holidays.

  4. Pingback: Do You Use Self-Serve at the Grocery Store? | New Grandmas Rock!

  5. Anonymous says:

    My tears hit at the weirdest places–the theatre where I took my children to see movies, our favorite restaurants, and yes the grocery store, — anywhere my memories strike. It is very hard, and even though it took 18 years for them to leave , I feel it snuck up on me. I loved being a mom to children, and now it is a sad time I am trying to muddle through

    • G&F says:

      I understand how you feel it snuck up on you although you had 18 years to get ready. Thanks for visiting us and please come back.


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