The Sympathy Meal: How You Can Help After a Friend Has Lost a Loved One


A death in the family can be about the most overwhelming thing that can be experienced. In addition to making the necessary funeral arrangements, the family is also plunged into a state of grief, making everyday life difficult. Many things understandably fall by the wayside, and this is why the sympathy meal is something that friends of the bereaved might wish to supply to those in the affected household. It really just involves you cooking a dish and bringing it to the family so that they can still have a hearty meal, thus giving them one less thing to worry about. It can be just as simple as cooking something that you feel is appropriate, but there is a more efficient way of providing sympathy meals to those in grieving. So what is the best way to go about it?

What You Need to Do

It can be counterproductive if everyone decided to cook a similar meal and then deliver them all on the same day. The grieving family might not have a use for that much food within a short timeframe (even if some of them were suitable for freezing). A meal that has been cooked with the kindest of intentions can simply go to waste. Get in contact with friends and other family members who might wish to participate in preparing sympathy meals. A group email or groupchat is the best way to make these arrangements. Organise a schedule that allows a variety of meals to be delivered daily in the period immediately after the death. This ensures that no matter how deep their grieving, the family will have something substantial provided to them each day by supportive friends. There are a few things that should be taken into consideration when determining which types of sympathy meals should in fact be prepared.

  • If possible, find out about any dietary requirements (food intolerances and allergies).
  • Again if possible, try to find out if the recently deceased had a favourite meal. It can be tactful to avoid preparing this meal so soon after they have died as it can be yet another reminder that a loved one has passed away.
  • You and your fellow sympathy meal cooks need to aim for food that can be easily reheated. This means that meals such as lasagna (and other pasta bakes) and stews are a good choice. They can be easily transported and then reheated as necessary.
  • Don't forget snacks! It can be thoughtful to provide a few snacks along with a more substantial meal. Members of the grieving family might not have the inclination to eat a full meal and might prefer to simply graze.

Your food-based contributions (as well as those of your fellow sympathy meal cooks) can be extremely helpful (and thoughtful) at such a time of need.


27 March 2017

Organising a funeral for teenagers

It's incredibly hard to plan a funeral for teenagers. They should have their whole life ahead of them, and even if they have had a terminal diagnosis, often their parents cannot believe that they could actually be gone. When my niece passed away, I worked with her friends to make sure that the funeral worked for them and gave them a chance to grieve as well. It was great to see how much impact my niece had made on the world in such a short time, with her friends and family coming together to pay tribute to the beautiful young woman she had been. This blog has tips for other people planning funerals for teens.