Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday, I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another. To follow, please leave your email address.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chew the Gum





Anne Lamott tells the story of having her tonsils taken out as an adult. After two weeks her prescription for painkillers ran out. She called the doctor’s office to get a new prescription. The nurse said No, and told her to chew gum vigorously, which is the last thing Lamott wanted to do with a painful throat. The nurse explained that when we have a wound in our body, the nearby muscles cramp around it to protect it from any more violation, and that Lamott would have to use those muscles if she wanted them to relax. 

She got the gum and she said that the first chews felt like she was ripping things in the back of her throat, but in a few minutes all of the pain was gone. 

For some people the death of a loved one is so traumatic that they never want to face that situation again. So they put up a protective barrier around themselves to prevent the pain, but this barrier also keeps them from loving others again.

Reality. If we love someone deeply, the benefits of this love outweigh the grief we will feel when they die. 

Reality. Life involves death; that’s part of the package, like it or not. People we love are going to die, some by accidents, some by health matters, some by old age.


After the shock of a death wears off, we need to face our grief and deal with it. We have to exercise our muscles for life again. The death is never going to go away, and we will not forget. But we need to eat, dance, and love again, because life is about loving others as much, and as deeply, as we can.

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