Sympathy Gifts: Food and Food Baskets
One of the things we’re often told to do to support a newly grieving family is to send a sympathy gift or gift basket that contains food. The tradition of providing food as a show of support goes back hundreds of years, and is part of a long-standing culture in which entire communities gather together after a loss—and need to be fed in the meantime.
In today’s society, baking a casserole for the bereaved is not as easy as it was in decades past. Unless you have a good relationship with the deceased’s family, bringing over a dish might be seen as awkward or intrusive. And if they don’t know you (and your cooking) personally, the food might not get eaten at all.
In almost all cases, it is best to talk with a member of the family first. Introduce yourself, identify your wish to contribute, and ask what types of foods would be most welcome. In many cases, they will let you know what the family needs (or prefers), or let you know if it would be better to bring something to the after party instead. And these days, it’s usually best to send along a disposable dish or one you do not need back. The added headache of remembering which dish belongs to which well-wisher is one few families need at this difficult time.
Sending Food Gifts
If you wish to contribute a food basket and don’t live in the area (or if you want to avoid doing the cooking yourself), there are additional options for you to consider. You can:
- Purchase a ready-made food tray or sandwich platter. These types of contributions tend to do well when there is a large crowd of people to feed over an extended period of time.
- Hire a food delivery service. From daily meals to the occasional frozen (or fresh) casserole or lasagna, there are now many companies that specialize in providing gourmet meal delivery service. You can find these either online or in your specific area.
- Consider gift certificates. A gift certificate to a local restaurant can make a nice contribution to a grieving family, and you can also consider one to a company that specializes in frozen meal delivery.
- Send a gift basket of food. Instead of flowers, consider a sympathy gift basket. Many specialty food baskets cater to the funeral industry, and provide a gourmet mix of comfort foods and items that can be offered all the well-wishers who stop by.
Funeral sympathy gifts can go a long way in lifting a family’s burden and showing your support. Food gifts are especially appropriate, since eating is something that not even the grieving can do without. Before you make any purchases or cook any casseroles, however, ask the family how you can help and tailor a contribution that works for them.