Mourning the loss of friends…
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.
Sympathize With Comfort Food
So, how do I relay this back to food, during this somber time? Research has shown, 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 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.
The Gift of Food
- Frozen items are ideal – the recipient can put away for later, when she has fewer visitors. She can eat when she is trying to get back to work, or just having a bad day.
- The easier the better – casseroles are perfect, they are easy, frozen and comforting. Try to proportion it according to the recipient’s needs.
- Breakfast Foods are thoughtful – quick breads or muffins are great for the bereaved family to have on hand when people stop by. Some are frozen.
- Aim for healthy – grieving families often eat irregular diets, consider making them a healthful alternative such as a fruit salad, something less heavy than regular comfort food.
- A follow-up visit – many bring food immediately following, however then it drops off. Consider taking someone to dinner or dropping off a casserole several months after. Sometimes it is not necessarily the food that helps, but having someone to eat with is the bigger benefit.
- A retrievable dish – when dropping off your gift of food, deliver it on a beautiful dish. It provides you with a reason to go back several weeks later, retrieve your dish and spend more time visiting, when things have calmed down a bit.
- Bring necessities – consider bringing paper plates, paper towels, disposable flatware or drinks. All of these items are necessary when eating the food and can help alleviate stress for the sorrow-stricken family.
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.