Grief Recipe Stories: All Saints’ Day Feast

Grief Recipe Stories Grief Recipe Stories : Eleanor Haley


This grief recipe story is brought to you by Mandy Berrell of Atlanta, GA. Mandy shares with us that she is a “wife and mama, educator, non-professional grief girl, and faith-filled sunshine finder🌞“. You can find Mandy on Instagram on @sunshineandbee.

In this story, Mandy shares how her family’s All Saints’ Day celebration has taken shape over the years, as well as an All Saints’ Day recipe. For those who aren’t familiar, All Saints’ Day takes place on November 1st and is a Christian celebration that honors the saints from Christian history. On this day – as well as November 2nd which is All Souls’ Day – many also honor and remember deceased loved ones.


As a teacher in a Catholic school for many years, I loved celebrating All Saints’ Day with my students at school, so once my own children came along, we wanted to observe it well in our home too. We talked about it when my first-born was small, but it wasn’t until he turned four that we really began to observe this holy day.

My family’s first All Saints’ Day dinner was November 2012, the year my sister passed away. Still, in the absolute throes of grief, I felt that nothing I did to acknowledge her absence was enough, but yet I felt I must do ALL THE THINGS to acknowledge her. It felt disloyal to her to miss even one opportunity to do something around her absence. She died so young – just 31 – and I physically ached with missing her.

So, I planned a dinner a for All Saints’ Day that included foods Sissy loved, especially our Daddy’s biscuits, her favorite Brussels sprouts and the carrot cake from The Grit that she always made for special occasions. We decorated with her many saint books, as she had a special affinity for saints and her beloved owl dĂ©cor everywhere!

Within the 18 months that followed my sister’s death, both of my precious grandmothers passed away and even my sweet little dog did too! It was a hard, HARD season of life.

As our All Saints’ feast dinner developed, we included Mimi’s famous mac and cheese casserole, Memaw’s delish pork tenderloin, and beer for my husband’s late father, Pat. Our children were now school age, which means they began to have an activity schedule that we had to workaround.

From this new season of life came our latest addition to All Saints’ Day – the snack feast!  We have added St. Isidore’s (candy) pumpkins, St. Francis’ animals (crackers), St. Bernadette’s firewood (pretzels), St. James’ fish (both gold and Swedish), St. Juan Diego’s salsa, St. Gabriel’s trumpets (bugles) and this year I think we’ll add St. Cecelia’s piano keys (wafer cookies and Hershey sections). This way, we can observe All Saints’ Day on the actual day and then if we need to move our special family-recipes Saints celebration to another night, it’s easy to do.

Some people leave an empty chair for family members who are missed; at this point, we would have nearly a full table of empty chairs so for us, lighting a candle is more logical. We decorate our table still with Sissy’s saint books, saint medals from Mimi, pictures of favorite saints, and a candle for each family member who would be present with us if they were still of this earth.

My daddy Steve passed away in 2018, and unsurprisingly his biscuits are the number one thing the kids want to have in our Saints dinner. Of course, the trouble is, nobody makes biscuits as Stevie did. I make them well enough, but only he could make them with the nuances of perfection as someone who had made them for years and years.

We have grown to love our family’s way of liturgical living at home – with food, just the way these loved ones would have enjoyed too!

Do you celebrate All Saints’ Day? If so, what traditions and recipes do you include?

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10 Comments on "Grief Recipe Stories: All Saints’ Day Feast"

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  1. Lori Williams  October 31, 2019 at 12:18 pm Reply

    Wow – what an absolutely beautiful tribute to your loved ones! And what a beautiful way to teach your children to both love well and grieve well…

  2. Kathleen M Leeper  October 31, 2019 at 12:32 pm Reply

    What a lovely tribute.

    The Mac and cheese recipe is missing the amount of “curry”.

    • Eleanor Haley  October 31, 2019 at 12:45 pm Reply

      That’s my mistake. I just fixed it! Thanks so much for pointing that out.

  3. Bex  October 31, 2019 at 4:06 pm Reply

    During my father’s terminal illness my sister and I visited a Day of the Dead celebration at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery with apprehension and curiosity. As lapsed protestants we were ignorant about the All Saints Day. It was a beautiful and happy celebration of displays of cars, photos, foods, flowers, love letters and tributes to loved ones who had died. No grief just joy , respect and memories. Bright colorful costumes like corpses but no grief just total acceptance of the circle of life. Soon after this my father passed away while I held his hand and our family has celebrated this day for 7 years now. A few more loved ones have been added to our alters but I look forward to special day for honoring my loved ones.

  4. Terri  October 31, 2019 at 9:06 pm Reply

    I love this Mandy, thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Laura Higgins  November 1, 2019 at 11:54 am Reply

    Wonderful post. I love how the meal has evolved over the years to include and honour so many. I’d have the same situation – having lost so many… many dishes, many candles, many memories. I think it must be a wonderful way also to talk about each person you are missing, telling stories, so that your kids will know and remember who they are as they grow. And you are modeling to your own kids how good remembrance is done. Inspiring! I cook/bake recipes my loved ones enjoyed or made, as a way of remembering them but never thought of having a meal like this where it all comes together. Thank you Mandy!

  6. Cynthia Keene  November 1, 2019 at 8:33 pm Reply

    Such a beautiful idea! What a beautiful way to honor your family members and help carry on their legacy with your children.

  7. Wendy  November 2, 2019 at 12:49 am Reply

    What a very beautiful way to remember your loved ones. I don’t cook to much now but was all what my mom made when my kids were growing up. They left 6 and 5 years ago I tend to think of the food my mom made only did the ones I liked . She always made coleslaw her own recipe I didn’t learn it. I tried but it’s a little bit of a lot of flavors our kids loved it they talk about it holidays tends to always go back to my moms special food she made for them. Thank you for sharing your story what a tribute to your family.

  8. Angie  November 2, 2019 at 11:03 am Reply

    Beautiful!!! I love this so much!

  9. Lagatta de MontrĂ©al  February 5, 2020 at 9:49 am Reply

    The Day of the Dead in Mexico and Central America has both Catholic and Indigenous peoples’ origins, and indeed means remembering and connecting to the departed among our families, friends and neighbours.

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