So, the last couple of days have been difficult. I found out that a friend I met while working at the Home Depot nearly 18 years ago, has passed away. This followed by a rash of news that flooded my inbox regarding other former co-workers that have passed away within the last year. I am a bit heartbroken. Although I have not been in contact with these individuals in recent months, I have always felt a special kindred relationship with them because we shared a time together, years ago when we were younger, before families, and before the responsibilities of middle aged adults were realized. We could be youthful in the things we shared. We would work together, socialize together, spend Superbowls together, and root each other on during our early careers. Some have moved on to other jobs or to raise families, or to write a blog, but we all share a special bond. I have spent the afternoon reminiscing with those friends via Instant Messaging. It has made me feel better. Although I married the most wonderful man, that I met at that exact same workplace, I miss those wonderful people I met during my young adult life.
So, how do I relay this back to food, during this somber time. Research has showed, that during times of isolation, widowed, or sadness, we crave comfort food. It reminds us of social times which makes us feel much less desperate and lonesome. “Comfort food seems to be something people associate very significantly with close relationships,” says Jordan Troisi, an assistant professor of psychology at Sewanee, Tennessee, University of the South. Comfort food makes us feel as if we belong. The smell of a particular food we enjoy becomes equated with social events we share with our family, friends and loved ones. As a result, nostalgia often centers around personal events involving people we care about, therefore, we see the evocation of nostalgia as one way people can obtain a sense of belonging even when the people they are close to are not close by.
When a friend, or loved one is gone, we feel isolation, solitude; the comfort food brings us back to a sense of belonging, family and togetherness. Could this be why it is tradition to bring “the gift of food,” to a funeral home, or the bereaving family’s home? We cannot take away the sorrow, but we can provide food to make things a little easier on the family during their time of intense sadness.
Never worry about if you are taking something the grieving family might already have, or if they will have too much food. It is not about whether or not they will even eat the food, but seeing how many support them during a difficult time.