Last year on Facebook I followed a link to a terrific article on mentalfloss.com that listed words we should have in English but don’t. Why, for example, does English not have a single word for “the day after tomorrow” or “the day before yesterday”? Other languages do this, and it just makes sense.
But the foreign word that stole my heart was the #1 winner:
1. Kummerspeck (German): Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.
Grief bacon. Trust the German people to allow two nouns to copulate that normally would not give one another the time of day, and have them give birth to a neologism.
In the wake of my mom’s death I’ve been eating my share of grief bacon: the giant pecan chocolate turtles from Aglamesis Bros., a century-old ice cream parlor not far from where I live. Lay’s Classic potato chips. Chicken and dumplings, which is what I made for dinner last night.
But the grief bacon that packs the most punch is any food that reminds me of my mom. Thank God she was not much of a cook or I’d really be in trouble . . . but she appreciated comfort food and loved to go out to eat. For months after she died I was not able to eat at the Echo Diner in Cincinnati because it was one of the places where she and I would always go when she came to visit me. The food and the place would just elicit a chain reaction of sadness in me. I knew I’d turned a corner when, one weekend morning, I was able to eat at the diner again and just appreciate the wonderful memories it brought of my mom.
There seems to be a universal connection between food and deep emotion — grief, yes, but also joy and belonging. A reader who has become a friend has just lost her dad to cancer, and over the last few weeks we’ve corresponded a bit about our shared experience. She just wrote a beautiful blog post about a special sandwich that her dad used to make for her when she was growing up; if you follow the link here you’ll see immediately why I thought of the “grief bacon” connection.
In this sandwich her dad used to make, there is loss and sadness now that he has been gone for a month and is not coming back. But there is also so much love, so many warm memories.
Sometimes a little grief bacon is just the thing we need.