WPP 032: Actor & author Tembi Locke on food, grief, widowed parenting, and her beautiful new memoir

For children their grief marches forward in a different way, meaning that as they grow and develop, they will have to revisit it at a new developmental stage. It’s going to continue to change so that it’s going to keep moving forward in time. Whereas for the adult — the partner, the wife, the husband, let’s say — we’re always looking back at our loss, where she’s looking forward at her loss. We’re looking back to the events that we had, the marriage I had — you know the time we first did this, the time we first did that. She’s looking at the time that she won’t be able to do that. It’s like you’re looking at the timeline in different directions.
— Tembi Locke

I had such a great discussion with Tembi Locke for this episode. I met Tembi at Camp Widow years ago, and I’m so glad I did. She’s an actor and now a New York Times bestselling author. Her first book – From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home – was recently published by Simon and Schuster and is one of Reese Witherspoon’s picks for her book club.

Tembi and I sat down to talk recently about her journey, including:

  • What she learned as a caregiver to her husband for 10 years;

  • Her service and advocacy work through The Kitchen Widow;

  • What food and connection at her mother-in-law’s table in Sicily has meant to her and her daughter in their grief;

  • Tembi’s tips for incorporating food into celebrations and memories, including simple tips for when cooking from scratch feels out of reach;

  • Her thoughts on showing up for her daughter, even when she wasn’t necessarily convinced that she could show up for herself;

  • Her a-ha moment in realizing that she and her daughter – though they both lost the same person – have very different experiences based on their different relationships to that person;

  • The idea that kids’ grief is primarily looking ahead at what they’re missing while adults’ grief is looking back at what they lost;

  • How helpful it’s been for her to talk with friends who lost their dads when they were young;

  • The relationship between anxiety and grief, and her experience with this; and

  • Her desire to continue to show her daughter the world, both literally and in terms of preparing her for the world she will be living in.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Tembi Locke.

Links & resources for this episode

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home, by Tembi Locke
Tembi’s web site
The Kitchen Widow
Tembi on IMDb
Tembi’s TEDx talk – What Forty Steps Taught Me About Love and Grief
To commemorate a loved one’s death, some turn to the comfort and memories of food, The Washington Post, June 3, 2019
Red wine infused sea salt recipe
Camp Widow
Reese Witherspoon’s book club
Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief, by Claire Bidwell Smith

More links for listeners

Get my guide “What I’ve learned about widowed parenting”
Widowed Parent Podcast discussion group - sign up here (free) - first Sunday of each month
Jenny’s interview on the Life Through Transitions podcast

What is your biggest challenge as a widowed parent right now?

Call our voice mailbox at (669)257-3434 and leave a message. Or, answer this quick one-question survey. I’ll pick the most interesting questions and challenges, and hunt down experts to address them on upcoming episodes.