Despite all our high-tech developments, still one of the best expressions of sympathy comes in a casserole dish. When a member of the church, a neighbor or your best friend’s spouse passes away, we are quick to mobilize with meals.
After a death, it can be tough to know what to do or say, but preparing a meal gives close friends and family members a tangible way to help. It’s an expression of comfort when comforting words escape us.
Whether you’re preparing a single lasagna or organizing a neighborhood meal train, consider these best practices:
• Make use of online services to organize and plan meal schedules. Set up a calendar so friends and family members aren’t all bringing meals on the same two days. Plus, you can specify any food allergies or other notes.
• Send meals that are easy to divide and freeze and that would reheat well. This is especially helpful if someone receives more meals than she can eat in a couple of days. Those leftover casseroles can come in handy a couple weeks down the road.
• Don’t be afraid to wait two or three weeks before dropping off a meal. Often people are loaded up with meals and desserts in the days following the death of a loved one and the funeral. A month later is the perfect time to check in and drop off dinner.
• If cooking isn’t your area of expertise, don’t be afraid to pick up some takeout. You could even call ahead to let a friend know you’re getting pizza for your family and would love to drop off an extra. A restaurant gift card – especially for one that delivers – is also a great choice and can be used at any convenient time.
Bringing meals to a friend or family member after a loss can be incredibly meaningful. Brian Calhoun, funeral director at J. Henry Stuhr Inc. Funeral Chapels and Crematory, says it’s important to remember that mealtime can be one of the most difficult times for those left behind.
“For 30 or 40 years they had dinner with the same person and now there’s that void at the kitchen table,” he says. “That silence is deafening.”
So, instead of simply dropping off a meal, offer to bring dinner over and then stay and eat. Or better, yet, invite your friend over to your house for a meal.
Those mealtime connections are one reason, Stuhr Funeral started a monthly lunchtime support group. Geared toward widows and widowers, it’s a chance for them to come together and fellowship, Calhoun says.
For more information about how they can provide support, visit JHenryStuhr.com or call (843) 723-2524.