GRIEF DOSING: Just a Spoonful of Chocolate Makes the Anguish Calm Down
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:
WORLD’S TASTIEST 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
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously butter or coat with nonstick spray a 9-inch X 13-inch X 2-inch baking pan.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs mixing until smooth. Add the flour slowly, and continue to beat until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or less according to whether you like them fudgy or cakey.
- 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.
Please feel free to contact me via my website: www.lauriegrad.com
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