Sympathy Meals101

Those who have faced a highly stressful time in their lives, such as major surgery, the birth of a baby, or a transition to a new home, know just how helpful and comforting it is to have someone else take care of the cooking. These meals, often referred to as sympathy meals, are also commonly associated with funerals. When someone you know experiences the death of a close loved one, providing home-cooked food is a great way to support them in their time of need. This small action can be a heartwarming blessing to those who are grieving. Here are a few things to consider before you start cooking.


Let someone in the family know you will be bringing a meal and offer them a couple of dates to choose from. Because food intolerances and allergies are common, send a little menu that includes a few different options so they can select what they would prefer.


Additional relatives or visitors might be present for the meal, so be sure to provide extra. If you are making a meal that is to be eaten at the time of delivery, you could double the recipe and make the second one freezer-friendly. This is a great way to provide more support later on when life might still feel a bit overwhelming for the family.


You might want to consider how you personally would serve the dish and what else might be needed. Adding salad, dinner rolls, dessert, or even a beverage ensures that the family meal is completely taken care of. Use a disposable dish with baking instructions written on it. Throw in paper products, too, because the last thing they will feel like doing is washing dishes. Many people like to include a couple of inexpensive toys for children or a few basic grocery items such as fruit and eggs. These are added extras that might make life just a little bit easier for those dealing with a recent loss.


Most likely, the best way to drop off your meal is to let them know when you plan to leave it at the door. However, depending on the person, you should also be prepared to stay and chat if they are wanting to spend time with a friend.

Not a cook? Can’t squeeze in the time? Want to be different?

While a home-cooked meal might be most people’s first thought, there are other ways to provide a bit of cooking relief to those who are going through a difficult time. Including a gift card to a local restaurant that delivers or offers carryout is a great option, particularly if you suspect the family might already be receiving several casseroles in the next few days. There are also many online meal services that you can order from and have delivered to the family.

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