• Food is comfort when words are inadequate – Don’t know what to say or what to do? Bring them a meal.

    Posted on July 18, 2012 by Cynthia Gossman in How to Help Others in Grief.

    When we are feeling overwhelmed and emotional it’s very comforting to know that people are thinking of us, wishing us well, want to help and comfort us.  Offering a loving meal does just that.

    • From the perspective of having a special needs son who has endured many surgeries and hospital stays
    • From the perspective of delivering a baby
    • From the perspective of recovering from an illness
    • From the perspective of being a caregiver
    • From the perspective of losing a loved one

    When our lives become overwhelmed with the above, one common thread is present – Lack of TIME.

    Personal Experience:

    1. When my son was born, he was born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect.  He had an older sister who was almost three when his many hospital stays started at CHKD.  He underwent two heart surgeries less than three months apart all before he was one year old.  During this time, our family was strained as we all took turns staying with him at the hospital and staying with my daughter at home.  Structure and schedules were compromised as was family time, which included meals.  Our meal time was often replaced with a pack of crackers and a soda pop, expensive non-nutritional fast food on the way to and from the hospital, or eating at the hospital which became costly, too.  We were very fortunate and blessed to have people in our lives to provide meals to our family.
    2. When my husband died suddenly, I found myself widowed at the age of 30 and suddenly a single parent to raise three small children on my own.  I was struggling with my grief and each one of the children’s grief.  There were times I felt that I was barely surviving my grief and as long as my kids got a PBJ, weren’t bleeding and the house hadn’t caught on fire, I considered myself doing okay.  I know that sounds a bit extreme; however, when you are in the midst of grief and mourning there are many extremes.  Once again structure and schedules were compromised as was family time, which included meals.  I was so fortunate to have a group of wonderful friends through the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads set up and provide my family with meals three times a week for over six months.  This alone was a huge help in my grieving process.
    3. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, two of the four daughters lived in the area and I was one of them.  Trips to the doctor’s office and specialists and eventually chemo became a big part of our structure and schedules.  Juggling the kids’ schedules with the needs of my mom’s took a little bit of adjustment and strategy.  Often, ‘mealtime’ suffered.

    When we are grieving everything is discombobulated!  There is no sense of time.  There is no sense of rhythm.  There is no sense of schedule.  Being the recipient of a blessed meal is a godsend.  The gift of a meal gives much more: it gives nutrition, a sense of relief, love, and comfort.  When grieving, it is very difficult to make decisions.  Not only is it you can’t think straight, your energy level is all out of whack.

    Meals provided brought comfort in the following ways:

    • For a day I was freed from the responsibility of planning a meal, making a grocery list, loading the little ones into the van, getting to the store, finding a parking spot, hopefully remembering to not forget anything, get back home, unload the groceries and the kids, and then cook!
    • It gave my family quality time and nutrition
    • It brought my family a sense of normalcy when so much wasn’t normal anymore
    • My family felt important and remembered
    • Having a smiling face greet me at my door when delivering the meal to me and my family.

    That was back in the day when we had phone trees and a lot of manpower and the internet was still coming to fruition.

    These days there are a lot of ways to connect and help people through social media. There are several sites on the internet that can be shared in groups to sign up for meal provisions such as www.takethemameal.com and www.mealtrain.com .  These are wonderful for the ones who like to cook and deliver the meal themselves.

    There is yet another choice; one that does the cooking and delivering for you.  This is a wonderful convenience to those of us who are giving and caring as well as have a full schedule with little time.  I have had the privilege to connect with a great gal Laura Levenhagen, with The TLC Kitchen, who has a fantastic service and ministry to our communities.  Please take a gander at her website www.thetlckitchen.com  SYMPATHY FOOD, GET WELL MEAL, and THE MEAL STORK are all avenues her company provides.

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