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The Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics

ISSN: 2472-7318

Recipe for dealing with a global pandemic when you’re grieving and feeling hurt

Amanda Andersen

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Keywords: grief; cancer; cooking; grandparent death

Categories: Navigating Loss and Grief

Content warning: grief, cancer, death

How do you grieve when it feels like there are endless losses to grieve?

Put on an outfit in which you feel beautiful, a havana hat if it’s sunny, a shawl or scarf if it’s cloudy, or yellow galoshes and a raincoat if it’s rainy, and walk to your favorite outdoor Farmer’s Market. Pick out two vibrant, large sweet potatoes. Better yet, let them pick you. Look at the farmer in the eye - fortunately masks have not stopped us from making eye contact and smiling - and thank them for caring for the earth and its inhabitants.

How do you deal with a global pandemic when you’re still grieving?

Chocolate. High-quality, vegan, fairtrade, organic, and sustainable in all ways possible. Ordered online from your favorite bean-to-bar (brownie points for tree to bar!) producer or bought at your locally-owned store. Curbside pickup preferred. Make sure you have 100% cocoa powder stocked, too.

How do you trust medical authorities and science if your grandmother passed away due to medical malpractice that put her in extreme pain followed by several weeks in coma before dying in a hospital?

Take deep breaths, be grateful for breathing in and breathing out, and do everything as slowly and as critically as possible. Follow guidelines as best as possible and hug those that are in your pod. Be as aware of your body as possible and care for it with all the support and guidance available to you. Preventive is best - daily walks, colorful, fresh diet, gratitude, prayer, sleep.

How do you put feelings related to grief on paper?

Journals are good for daily reflections, but parchment paper is especially therapeutic and healing in my experience. Use it to line a baking pan - circular preferred - and preheat the oven to 180*C / 350 * F. Bake the beautiful sweet potatoes until tender, let cool. Collect the aquafaba (the liquid in which chickpeas were cooked) from a BPA-free can of chickpeas (brownie-points for home-cooked chickpeas, soaked for 8 hours before cooking). Place slices of sweet potatoes, aquafaba, 12 dates, 1 tbsp vinegar, and 6 tablespoons molasses in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Mix 6 tablespoons of your favorite cocoa powder with 1 cup of oat flour and 1 cup of buckwheat flour. Add 1/2 tsp baking soda and a pinch of salt.

Add wet and dry ingredients and mix until homogeneous. Pour into a baked parchment-lined circular pan. Pop into a preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.

How do you support a friend diagnosed with cancer during a pandemic when the mention of that word still brings up hurt and tenderness, because it reminds you of a deceased friend, diagnosed with a brain tumor in her mid-30´s shortly after giving birth to her second son?

Take a deep breath and just be for your friend and whatever she is going through. There are no guarantees, but let her know you are praying for her and available to provide support however you can.

How do you decide, as a woman, if you want to give birth and be responsible for another life?

I dunno. Talk about it, make plans, open a savings account, do behavioral therapy, educate yourself, learn from friends.

In the meantime, while plans don’t go as planned, let the cake cool for 30 minutes, then prepare to make your topping. Melt some of your favorite bean to bar chocolate in a bit of plant-based milk (almond or cashew milk), and sweeten with more molasses if necessary. Pour over the cake.

Find your favorite herbs and spices, perhaps a couple of berries, and decorate the cake. Remember how your grandmother Jane was prized for her flower arrangements; remember how your Danish friend Heike loved and introduced you to all sorts of teas. Remember the tea times you enjoyed with Jane at Janesfarm, her ranch, and the tea times you enjoyed with Heike in Cologne, Luxembourg, Paris, Tbilisi, London, and Brussels after you met at a summer school in Denmark. 

How do you take responsibility for your own life? 

Write it out. Even if your paper is parchment, and your ink is vegan, chocolatey goo baked for 45 to 50 min in an 180*C / 350*F pre-heated oven.

Savor it.

*original recipe is sweet potato brownies with chocolate sauce recipe · deliciously ella

A sweet potato brownie cake, placed on a pink flower tablecloth, is covered in chocolate sauce and decorated with rosemary, lavender, and a red leaf. 



Amanda Andersen is a Ph.D. student at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Her research interests include informal education, mentorship for diversity, arts-based qualitative research, and disability justice. 

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