GRIEF DOSING: Just a Spoonful of Chocolate Makes the Anguish Calm Down

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Even though it has been almost six years since Peter died, when the global pandemic struck, I was hit with grief overload.  Not only was I alone, but I was alone, isolated, and scared out of my wits! On one hand I craved having Peter by my side as we would be quarantined together and find some modicum of joy in each other’s company.  But being more altruistic, I find that I am glad that he didn’t have to face this pandemic.

Despite my grief overload, I had to get a grip on my situation and figure out a way to tamp down the fears and sadness I was feeling.  I had to conjure up what I call my “grief prescriptions.”  I had to measure out my daily dose of grief.  I couldn’t overdose or I would have sunk into a hole so deep I would never be able to find a ladder long enough to climb out into the light.  I had to allocate time for “grief work,” so that I could function during the day.  I had to become a doctor and dispense a prescription: one hour of grief, taken daily. 

This took me back to when Peter died and I remembered my grief prescription of screaming in the shower or the car.  OK, the side effects were often exhaustion and dizziness from tears and crying but when I followed my own doctor’s orders, I began to feel better. I cracked myself up thinking of the commercials where they listed side effects such as: stomach pain, changes in appetite, decreased sex drive (ya think?), and an erection that would last for more than four hours!

In a pandemic, I knew I needed “grief relief!”  I had to find activities that would take me away from the pain even just for a few hours.  I had to measure out portions of activities that would take me to a place of restoration before I had to resume grief work.   The following are some ideas for diversionary tactics to take you away from the realm of grief work even for just a few hours:


Grief Relief Activities:


  • Take a walk outdoors. Endorphins and fresh air are proven to help to restore a sense of well-being. 
  • Get lost in a book. I highly recommend Mike Nichols: A Life by Mark Harris.
  • Go out to a restaurant! Now that most of us are vaccinated, it feels almost normal again.  And the restaurants so need our business.
  • Cook! I find cooking a great relaxation exercise.  If you hate to cook, disregard this step and move right on! Or, order in some comfort food on Postmates.
  • Visit a museum now that you are vaccinated. Find hours when it is not too crowded and enjoy.
  • Binge watch Netflix, Amazon, HBO Max, PBS, Hulu, Disney + (great documentary on Wolfgang Puck), Acorn, and Britbox!
  • Phone a friend. If you feel sad, call your closest pal and let them know you need to talk.
  • Work out. Pilates, Yoga, weight-training are all great releases and now that you are vaccinated, it feels OK to be in a gym.
  • Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.


And speaking of chocolate, here is a recipe for my favorite brownies:


From Laurie Burrows Grad

Yield: 32 Brownies


  • 12-ounce package real semi-sweet chocolate bits (I like the mini-chips that melt faster)

½   pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter

½   teaspoon instant coffee

4     extra-large eggs

1    cup granulated sugar

1    teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1    cup all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously butter or coat with nonstick spray a 9-inch X 13-inch X 2-inch baking pan.
  2. In a non-stick-heavy-bottomed pan, melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat, stirring often until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.  Add the instant coffee and stir to dissolve.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the eggs for a minute until lightly colored. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat for 2 to 3 minutes until smooth.
  4. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs mixing until smooth. Add the flour slowly, and continue to beat until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or less according to whether you like them fudgy or cakey.
  6. Allow them to cool. Cut into squares and serve.



  • Baked brownies can be turned out onto a sheet of aluminum foil, wrapped, and chilled for frozen. The brownies can then be easily cut, cold or semi-frozen, and brought to room temperature before serving.




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