© 2013 School of Jellyfish. All rights reserved.

Cooking and Remembering



Cooking and Remembering


An innovative workshop sponsored in part by School of Jellyfish and hosted by Grief & Bereavement Specialist, Peter Gevisser, designed to help individuals move
through grief and loss .

$500/per person – for 10 week workshop,
September 19th – November 21stThursday evenings from 6:30pm – 9:00-pm
The group will comprise of no more than 8 people.

at School of Jellyfish
183 Main Street, Beacon, NY 12508


SQUID MEMORIES:                      2nd August 2013

©Peter Gevisser

I’m riding a train from Beacon to Manhattan, where I work as a Psychotherapist.  It is mid-summer, and as the verdant foliage, as thick as oil paint dances across my gaze, I am reminded of summer in London circa 2002.  My mind’s eye takes me back to a small flat that I shared with my partner, Katrin, on the edge of Hampstead Heath.  It felt like we were in a tiny boat in a vast green sea.

Katrin passed away, quite suddenly, at the end of that summer.  As a 30 year old man, who had had no experience of loss, let alone a sudden and unexpected loss, I was thrust out of that secure, rattling boat into an unnerving wilderness.  I was fortunate in that I had the loving support of my close family and friends and of Katrin’s.  Yet, even with that, I felt utterly lost.

Three years after Katrin died, I had been ordering in or eating out as a matter of course.  My soul felt unnourished, desiccated and empty.  I felt an undeniable urge to cook. But cook what? I finally mustered up the courage to confront the storage space into which Iʼd hurtled my past life with Katrin. The contents and disorganization of that airless, chalky, echoing chamber, mirrored my emotions. Crazy with grief, I stumbled upon one overturned box that had written on it, in indelible ink: “Precious contents. Do not throw away.” I hauled it out into the corridor, and under fluorescent light, reminiscent of hospital hallways, I carefully opened it up. Laying on top was a red, leather bound book inscribed: “Katrinʼs Recipes”, and next to it, the delicate, transparent spine of a squid. I had found what I was looking for.

I opened it up the recipe book to find:  “Katrin’s Fish Mix recipe”.

I can picture Katrin in our kitchen, the image is slightly blurred and jumpy, like an old 8mm movie projected onto a stippled wall.  She is in a checkered apron, bought from a market in the South of France, with a fresh squid in her hand. I watch her as she cleans it, turning it inside out and expertly pulling out its innards.  She extracts the spine, and we both look at it in amazement – it is a perfect transparent quill.

As I began to cook Katrin’s recipes, I noticed that my soul was starting to heal.  At first I shopped and cooked and ate alone.  Gradually I started to invite old and new friends round.  And as I uncorked the wines and we shared the food so her image, once calcified by the trauma of her passing, began to move and dance.  And so it was that she was conjured, and my real recovery began.

As I write this, ten years have passed since Katrin died.  At home, in Beacon, my wife Liza and 11 month old Sam, are playing in the yard.  It’s taken a little while, but I’ve found love again and new seas of green to swim in, in the Hudson Valley.  I will shop for squid in the city this afternoon, and bring it back to make “Katrin’s Fish Mix”.  My ability to move through grief, rather than live in spite of it, I owe in large part to cooking and remembering.

It was from this awareness that I enrolled at Antioch to earn a Masters in Clinical Psychology.  I wanted to find a way to formalize my experience into a therapeutic modality.  It is from this that the spine of “cooking and remembering” was developed. We cook recipes together that are reminiscent of lost loved ones, by way of starting to live with grief and loss rather than despite it.  As we start to incorporate loss into our lives through the ritual of cooking, so we find that our clenched fists begin to open up into open hands that face the sky.


Peter Gevisser was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa.  He graduated from Brown University with a BA in English and American Civilization in 1994.  He then moved to London where he trained as an actor, and had been working professionally as such, in London and the USA, until he enrolled at Antioch University, where he graduated with a Masters in Clinical Psychology.  He is a certified Imago Relationship Therapist & a Grief and Bereavement Specialist. The focus of his work draws from these diverse disciplines.