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The Obesity of Grief

The Obesity of Grief

By Mary Ellen Collins

We are fat with loss. As I waddle through the day, grief has become my go-to food of choice. I layer grief upon grief creating a Jenga puzzle that teeters on collapsing.

How many calories are in a layer of grief? Can it really be that fattening? It sits on my hips, like a newborn longing to be rocked.

Grief makes me fluffy. Well fluffier. I struggle with unexplained weight gain. I once found a picture of a lamb, well before shearing season. It was a comical message. “Ewe’s Not Fat, Ewe’s Just Fluffy.” I became Aunt Fluffy when I would send my niece my gently-used business suits. On the enclosed card, I would writeI got fat and you got lucky. Love, Aunt Fluffy.

When we gain weight, we normally go on a diet. Wonder what a grief diet looks like?

Layer upon layer, I look at my grief. One layer is the loss of what normally takes place every day. If I can name it, I can manage it.

Sunshine. . . Smiles. . . Hugs. . . No virtual hug. . . No air hug . . . A real honest to-God Bear Hug. Holding someone.

There are other layers, deeper ones. I just don’t want to explore them. Why not? Am I afraid I will be ingested by grief if I enter into the abyss? It did take me 35 years to begin to unpack the grief of losing my mother.

I work hard to keep myself positive. Giving gratitude each day. Challenging each negative thought as it attempts to transform itself into another layer of obesity. Such hard work! Oh, If mental efforts were metabolized into calorie-burning changes. I would see my svelte reflection.

Old losses cling to us and we wear them like a second skin, well at least I do. I thought I had laid that them down and now they are back. How many times do I need to relive that loss? Here is comes again.

Why am I afraid if to think about it? Is it because I may not be able to manage it? If I can name it, I can manage it. My new mantra.

Anticipatory grief. Could that be the reason? That feeling about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. An imaginary future. Something bad is coming but I can’t see it. I don’t feel safe. Worry about what is to come. That overwhelms me. The what-Ifs and maybes cause my gut to churn. I realize that I am grieving on a micro (all about me) and a macro level (all about the changes in the world.) Tums becomes my go-to drug of choice.

Stop it! I am spinning into grief-neverland. I need to work on the now. Focus on what I can control. Let go of what I cannot control. Name my present real losses. If I can name it, I can manage it. I need to let it move through me so I can feel it.

Vacations. Oh it has been so long since I have felt sand between my toes and in other places. What I would do for a good sand-wedgie right now!

Human contact. I miss people. I declared that picking up our mail is MY JOB. I go slow. Hang out like a stalker, waiting for someone to show up so I can ambush them with conversation.

What makes me cry is how much I miss my grandson. It took forever for him to come into my life. 2 years of being a foster granny, and then when I could spoil him — @### Pandemic! I treasure the short zooms, phone calls and dreams of a visit with him sometime. Oh sometime, when will that be?

My list is quite lengthy. I work on continuing to name my losses. As the Executive Director of the Motherless Daughters Ministry, for 21 years I have held other’s losses and stories. Broken stories, layered with grief and loss. My burden is quite weighty. Another layer. I am sure these are more than a total days calorie intake. Any yet, I listen. I am safe.

Focusing, naming my losses, understanding which ones I can control, and letting go of what I have no control are the special ingredients I need for my grief diet.

Remembering my mother’s words in times like this is powerful. “This too shall pass.”

Comments(2)

  1. Reply
    Meeta says

    Talking about grief like you have so eloquently done in this blog is important, also knowing that there are others, your friends and neighbors who understand you and whose shoulders you can lean on is also crucial.
    Sharing our passions and dreams and reflections with others lighten our souls and carries us forward from day to day.
    Enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Motherless Daughters Ministry says

      Thank you for your affirming words. Yes, we are all in this together!

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