May 7, 2008
How to Help Your Grieving Friend, Part 10
When we lost Felicity, we had a lot of meal help from friends and family. I learned a few things from the people serving me about how to serve others—with food.
1. BRING MEALS!
It is essential, really. Bringing meals is a profound ministry to the hurting. Your friend’s mind is otherwise engaged and simply cannot sequence the steps for making a meal.
2. Organize the meals so she doesn’t have to.
Ideally, one person (not the griever) is coordinating meals immediately after the loss. If the grieving person has to coordinate what days they’re going to get a meal, who it’s coming from, what time it’s arriving, etc., that’s just as much work as trying to make meals herself. If there is no meal coordinator, volunteer!
3. Stagger the times that you bring meals.
Depending on the size of the family, meals may only be necessary every other day or even every third day. Because of leftovers, one meal often provides for two days of eating.
4. Bring a frozen meal.
As many of you know after a death, there’s often no shortage of food. A frozen meal can be set aside for when it’s most convenient. You can even organize your small group to bring a whole batch of frozen meals if they have an extra freezer (make sure first!). These come in handy a couple months down the road when the organized meals are over, and a particularly hard day/week comes.
5. Make sure everyone doesn’t bring the same thing.
Soup and lasagna are the most common meals to bring because they taste so good, they’re the easiest to make, and they travel well. But make sure they haven’t received a bunch of those already (talk to the meal organizer about that).
6. Should I stay or should I go? Yes.
When you bring a meal, feel the situation out for whether or not you should linger. They might want you to stick around and talk, but if you think not, it’s perfectly acceptable to drop it off and get going.
7. Don’t count on commiserating.
You’re bringing a meal because of their loss, but they might not want to feel that loss with you right then. Just before dinner might not be a good time for “a moment.”
8. Deliver dinner in dishes you don’t need back.
Always provide a meal in containers that don’t need to be returned to you. Having to keep track of 9×13′s and serving bowls is too much work. It requires the organizational effort that we’re trying to avoid.
9. Tell them not to thank you.
Make sure they know that you don’t need a thank you note. You can even go as far as telling them that you’ll actually be bothered if they take the time to write you a note.
10. It’s never too late to bring a meal.
Most of you probably don’t know anyone who lost a loved one so recently that meals are still being organized for them. But you do probably know someone who endured a loss six, seven, twelve months ago. I can almost guarantee that if you called and asked to bring dinner this week, you’d bless their oven mitts off. It’s never too late.
Maybe some of you have been meal organizers or have had meals brought to you–what things have you found helpful? Any other tips you want to share?
(Read other posts in this series.)
Addendum, added 5/15/2008
Many of the comments from this post were so helpful and practical that I just had to put them at the end here so that other readers could more easily access them. So here we go:
- Gift cards!
- Take them out to eat (McDonald’s can be a fine option if young kids are involved).
- The meal coordinator should alert those bringing meals about any dietary restrictions, allergies, and food preferences.
- Meal coordinators should give a reminder phone call
- If you don’t have the means or availability to make a whole meal, bring something else, like some tea or a small plate of cookies. It’s about letting them know you’re thinking of them.
- Take a shipment of paper products and plastic utensils over to them so that clean-up is mindless too.
And one of my favorite quotes came from jamsco, who said, “Meals are a gift from God through the human giver.” Perfect!