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.

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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 that 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 damage, and that Lamott would have to use those muscles if she wanted them to relax. 

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

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

The reality is that if we love someone deeply, the benefits of this love outweigh the grief we will feel when they die. 

The reality is that 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, and some by old age. Friends also move away and our daily interactions with them will end, and we will grieve the death of a relationship.

The death is never going to go away, and we will not forget the ones we loved, but after the shock of death wears off, we need to chew our grief.

We need to eat and dance and love again, because life is about loving others as much, and as often, as we can.

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