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Grief Bacon, Sleep Swim, and other musings of learning to let go.

Updated: Nov 21

hand and fingertips hovering just abovew the smooth water surface with water droplets coming off the fingers.

There’s a deep lusciousness of water at the perfect temperature when it touches your skin and invites you to go below the surface. It’s a lure of quietness that immediately transports you someplace else. A momentary bliss of otherness that is also all-ness at the same time. Instantly, you are suspended, supported, hair floating, drifting… sound succumbed to the muffled waves. It is a deliciousness that can only be felt once because once you are completely submerged, that first visceral experience is gone. Even if you go out and come back in again, that first plunge is only first once.

It's similar to sleep. I am a very vivid dreamer. My dreams are often extremely detailed, in color, and have complicated plots and interactions. Sometimes I experience lucid dreaming with interaction in dreams that I can “pause”, analyze, evaluate, and even question elements of a dream before “hitting play” and allowing it to proceed. They can be symbolic, prophetic, or ordinary.

a dreamy blue light at the end of a wood slat lined hallway with stars reflected on the flow and barely visable clouds painted on a deep blue wall in the distance

The other day, however, I awakened just enough to have maybe checked the time, but decided against it and let go into what I hoped to be several more hours of sleep. But I must have been in a somewhat lucid state because I felt myself slip beneath the surface into sleep. And it was that same complete surrender one might feel going underwater on that perfect day. It felt so incredible, that I actually “paused” and “replayed” what just happened in order to make sense of the “going under” feeling. It’s kind of wild, I have to say, to participate and observe an experience at the same time.

It's one o’clock in the morning as I write this so, clearly, tonight was not one of those nights of bliss one might hope for. It’s a “moving thought” night and I can’t help but think of an article I found a week or two ago while doing research on the term “grief bacon.”

black and white photo of a sidewalk cafe with two women. One woman is drinking out of a glass, the other is older, a bit frumpled, perhaps tired, and looking off into the distance.

The term comes from the German word, kummerspeck, which literally translates to “grief bacon.” I first encountered this in an Instagram post explaining that it isn’t a derogatory term, but rather an understanding when someone has been going through a stressful time, whatever that may be, and is most likely a temporary, but hard space that can show up as emotional eating and weight gain. Understanding kummerspeck can lead toward compassion, maybe curiosity, and less judgment.

Something about that post made me curious about other words, meanings, usages, etc. And then I came across an article, “Grief Bacon” And 12 Other Untranslatable Words About Love. And there, in this brief article from 2016 were these 13 words from other languages that have been sitting dormant, just waiting to be discovered, used, and understood. If you like to hear words pronounced, watch this short video that accompanies the article. It’s a sweet video, well put together that mostly likely has a word about something you’ve experienced personally.

You might want to have the article open in another tab because I’m bound to use a few of the words here.

snow covered tall pine trees in a forest setting with a light blue clear sky in daytime

After sharing the above article with a friend, she mentioned the many words of snow used by the Inuit. There are so many articles out there on the sheer number of words used for snow in all kinds of context, that I’ll let you explore that one on your own. But let's just say when you combine the Intuit family of languages together, you could feasibly have hundreds of snow words, (more than the great myth of 50 words of Snow). This instantly reminds me of my grandmother saying English didn't express love the same way Spanish did. There's always more than one way to accomplish anything.

So how does this correlate to that amazing moment of sleep swimming? Well, I guess in a way it doesn’t have anything to do with diving into sleep.

Except for grief bacon.

Grief bacon has me thinking. Not sleeping.

Something about the idea of this concept of “grief bacon”, the idea of a temporary, allowable experience that is seen with compassion, understanding, and non-judgment felt like a weight lifted. This is funny because, by definition, extra weight is present.

My family is just under the 4-month mark of processing Mom’s passing, Thanksgiving is this week, the holidays are fast approaching, and business is experiencing a big support right now (thank you). However, without me knowing about kummerspeck, the energy of said grief bacon has been a presence sitting next to me in the car, hanging out in the office chair, tapping its foot to the background music in the day while casually reading a non-existent magazine, and taking up space on my pillow at night, maybe practicing nunchi.

a bowl full of food on a round wooden serving try with a tea towel to teh left side and two small bowls with small sliced tomatoes in one bowl and some type of herbed cheese or nuts in the  other bowl

I think it has the intention of a good friend of helping by doing things for me – a nurturing of sorts -, but maybe kummerspeck just needs to be loved like a visitor, one who needs a place to stay, some compassion, and a soft pillow to lay its head, even if I tartle around when an actual visitor comes over.

When I felt the weight of the word (pun not intended) and understood the concept with more of an open heart rather than an unwelcome couch surfer, something changed. Letting something be immediately allowed that something the ability to be let go.

I felt some kind of pressure within me that I didn’t even know was there, moving to the outside like the ever so slight pause of a parting hug from someone saying goodbye before going home. That little bit of space has a bit of razliubit, knowing change is inevitable and necessary.

But this is real life and let’s just say kummerspeck bought a one-way ticket and will probably stay through the end of the year. Maybe it will return home in spring.

Maybe I’m lost between saudade and reality. Ittuaqtuinnaqtuq will eventually give way to wabi-sabi.

ocean water at a shoreline at the exact moment an  outgogn wave hits and incoming wave with a small splash of water on the far left side of the photo and a sun flare from the  far off center lights up the water

It seems that when we quit holding our breath with our whole being, the sensation of dipping into water or sleep can happen on the inside with breath. Air flowing into the inside washing through like an invisible wave, crashing into the smallest of caves, and sloshing about at our very edges can be just as important as the sensations on the outside. Is it really a wonder how our breath changes to sound like waves when we sleep?

Maybe our inner being looks at our outer being with mamihlapinatapai, and the only time it connects is when we breathe deeply and sleep swim (a phrase I'm totally making up, by the way) into a place of effortlessness.

However, I think for any of these things to take place, we have to let go. We have to relax, surrender, acknowledge, see, and feel. We have to breathe. Maybe there is something to grief bacon, sleep swimming, and letting go after all.

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