In many cultures, presenting a bereaved family with a covered dish is a meaningful way to offer your condolences.
From southern comfort foods to cultural classics, there are no rules dictating what to bring when preparing a dish for a grieving family. However, there are some best practices you should try to abide by to ensure the gesture will be well received and helpful for the family.
Ask About Dietary Restrictions
Before you decide on a dish, it’s important to ask about any dietary restrictions that family members may have. If you feel it’s best not to disturb the family as they are mourning, consider reaching out to a close friend or close relative or extended family member, to inquire about any food allergies or strong aversions that members of the family may have.
Make Dishes that will Reheat Well or Can Be Served Cold
Menu items that fall into the “comfort food” category, such as pasta dishes and casseroles are popular and practical when trying to feed a family after a death has occurred because they reheat well and can typically feed a large number of people.
However, if you don’t have time to cook an elaborate meal, a great alternative is bringing a dish that can be served cold. Fresh fruit and vegetable trays, pasta salad and platters with sandwich meat and cheese are quick (all the “ands” got confusing), no-fuss alternatives to hot food items.
Include Child-Friendly Items
Catering to children’s palates can be challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with their dietary preferences. When preparing food for a family with fussy eaters or small children, stick to simple, classic dishes. Macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders and spaghetti are common menu items that small children often enjoy.
Bring Basics for Every Meal
Because many people will be providing main dishes for dinner, it’s nice to stock the family’s pantry with breakfast and snack options such as pastries, bagels, muffins and variety packs of chips or crackers. Not only will it save you the time of preparing a dish, but it also helps keep the fridge and freezer from overcrowding with sympathy meals.
Communicate with the Family
When you don’t communicate effectively with the grieving family you are preparing food for, your thoughtful gesture may come across as a burden to them. Be sure to call ahead and let the family know you’re coming, and remember that they may not be in the mood to entertain guests. If they seem hesitant to have you drop by, you should consider extending a dinner invitation to your house instead.
When you choose to show your support for a grieving family through food, remember that no matter what you bring, the effort and thought behind the gesture is what matters the most. If you’re looking for other ways to offer grief support, review our grief support resources online or call Bevis Funeral Home at 850-385-2193.