It has been three and a half years since my husband Peter suddenly died. The thing I miss most about my loss, is not being able to kiss him good morning, kiss him hello when he walked in the door, and most of all, not being able to kiss him goodnight.

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It has been three and a half years since my husband Peter suddenly died. The thing I miss most about my loss, is not being able to kiss him good morning, kiss him hello when he walked in the door, and most of all, not being able to kiss him goodnight.  Peter and I were big in the kissing department.  We loved the touch of each other’s lips and kissing for us was a way of communicating our love without saying a word.  When you use the expression “sealed with a kiss,” that was what we did all day long.  BTW, the acronym of this phrase, SWAK, was written on the envelopes of servicemen to their loved ones during World War I and World War II. In medieval times, contracts were not considered legal until the signers included an X which represented Saint Andrew and they would kiss the X to prove their sincerity.

When I researched kissing I found that kissing behavior is not unique to humans.  Primates such as Bonobo apes are known for kissing each other.  A little-known fact is that these monkeys love to French kiss too!  I would include a link, but it was a bit gross so just use your imagination please.  We know that our pet dogs and cats frequently nuzzle each other.  It is thought that the first kiss on the mouth was given by a mother to feed her baby but the love-type kiss dates back to 1500 BC.  There is actually a scientific study of kissing called philematology derived from the Greek “philos” meaning earthly love.  Philematologists aren’t really sure why humans started to lock lips, but they believe that is does come from primate mothers feeding toothless babies. 

Here are some fun facts about kissing:

  • Kissing allows one to burn 2 to 6 calories per minute.  One would have to do a lot of heavy petting to work off a donut for sure!
  • Most people turn to the right when they kiss.  Who knew?
  • Only 46% of human cultures kiss romantically.
  • A French kiss can transfer over 80 million bacteria.  Gross!
  • Herodotus of Halicarnassus wrote about kissing in his book The Histories in 440 BCHe stated that among the Persians, men of equal rank greeted each other with a kiss on the mouth and those of lower rank were demoted to a kiss on the cheek.
  • In Roman times kissing was a legal bond that sealed all contracts.
  • In Colorado, it is against the law to kiss a sleeping woman.  Really?
  • The Kama Sutra contains over 30 types of kisses.
  • 70% of the US population has had their first kiss by age 15.
  • Many moons ago, it was assumed that the bride and groom had not kissed before the wedding so this would traditionally be their first kiss. 
  • There’s a field of experts who specialize in lipsology and analyze lip prints the way others do astrology or palmistry.
  • Kissing lowers blood pressure, increases serotonin, improves immunity, increases dopamine, and reduces anxiety levels.  No wonder I miss it!

I yearn for the feel-good part of kissing. I often tear up when I see a couple kissing and feel the intensity of my sadness swoop over me and into my devastated heart.  Kissing raises one’s oxytocin and decreases one’s cortisol stress levels creating a very pleasurable effect.  Kissing friends or family on the cheek, doesn’t have the same effect or raise any levels for me.   The thought of kissing someone new is quite a dilemma for widows.  We are so used to the soft intimacy of kissing our partners that allowing a new person to kiss us evokes fear, trepidation, and a stomach tied up in knots!  I am hopeful that one day I will find someone to lock lips with, but for now, I will just remember the soft touch of Peter’s lips against mine and that will have to do for a while. 

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March 9, 2005 – Beverly Hills, CA. Laurie Burrows Grad and Peter Grad . The Alzheimer’s Association’s 12th Annual A NIGHT AT SARDI’S celebrity fundraiser and awards dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The Alzheimer’s Association is the only national volunteer health agency dedicated to supporting people with Alzheimer’s Disease and their family members. Photo by: Alex Berliner©Berliner Studio/BEImages
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