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Old 02-12-2015, 08:48 PM   #1
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What to bring to a family who has lost a loved one.

I am from a family of 8 children and spouses, 15 grandchildren and 14 greatgrand children,
Losing my dad (87 yrs old) this January and going through a week of running around and receiving so many food dishes by freinds and neighbors, made me realize a few things.
We received so many wonderful dishes. We tried to mark items as they came in, but a few got by us. We were running out of coffee cups, paper plates & bowls , paper towels, garbage bags, coffee, juice boxes, bottled water.
Now when I have to bring something to a home that is going through that loss or something else., I will change my thinking.
Use deposable pans for hot items so they don't have to worry about returning it. Go to a dollor store and find a platter or bowls and mark on it no need to return it and my name also on any item so they know who brought the item.
Purchase the items that we were running out of that I mentioned above and make a care package box.
Offer baby / toddler sitting , offer airport pick ups and returns. Take / pick up children at school. (remember to have parents call school with your information to pick up the child.
My mom 82 yrs old got a little run down ended up with a bad cold and no voice. Made me also think to check in with the family 1 week or 2 after, maybe make a meal then for them or if an elderly person, see if they need to go to the store, Drs. etc or just go and spend time with them as I know adusting to change might be difficult.
My mom is doing better , there is 5 of us 8 that live in the area the other 3 are out of state so she has enough of us around.
Just things to think about.

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Old 02-12-2015, 09:15 PM   #2
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Very thoughtful and kind. Thanks for the suggestions and I am very sorry for you and your family's loss.
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:33 PM   #3
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I'm so sorry for you loss, letscook. My condolences are sent to you and your family.

I can definitely mirror your comments. When Buck died, I was nearly overwhelmed with all manner of food. Returning the dishes/containers to their rightful owners was nothing short of a daunting task and, as you mentioned, some do/will escape even our best diligence.

Having said this, for those of you wishing to bring food to a family who has suffered a loss, deliver it in a container you don't wish to have returned. I keep a "stash" of such bowls, etc. that I pick up at yard sales and thrift stores for just this purpose. Ditto for labeling the container as "do not return." But, do add your name so a note of acknowledgement can be sent afterwards.

You also point out an area that definitely needs attention. That is disposable plates, cups, knives, forks, spoons, napkins, etc. You have no idea how welcomed those items would be. I was up to my neck in food but I surely could have used more eating/serving dishes. And, definitely, cups and napkins.

When it comes to food, try to bring moderately-sized dishes. The recipient will be swimming in food when it's all over they may not have the refrigerator/freezer space to keep it for later consumption.

Again, with food, hardly anyone thinks of bringing breakfast foods. I had many family members from out of town with small children and it would've been a blessing if someone had brought some boxed cereals, doughnuts, milk, eggs, etc. Especially for the day of the funeral.

The rest of your ideas are spot on and would be helpful to everyone, not just those left behind who are elderly.
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Old 02-12-2015, 10:22 PM   #4
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So sorry for your loss, Letscook. Some great ideas.
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Old 02-12-2015, 10:44 PM   #5
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I'm sorry to hear of your family's loss, letscook. It's good for your Mom that she has so much family nearby to help her until she adjusts to her new normal.

I'm also grateful for all of your pointers. You're right about the need for peripheral items that come in handy when you have too much to do to keep up with the regular duties of life. Thanks for bringing those to our attention.

I'd like to add one more suggestion. I know many families are now requesting donations to a charity or support group for whatever their family member either died of or, perhaps, participated in while alive, in lieu of flowers. When some such request isn't present, I think a little outside the box when it comes to flowers. Instead of a floral arrangement, we've sent planters. The family members can take them home to remind them of the support they had during the funeral process if they chose. In our case both my Mom and my Aunt spent some part of their end days in nursing homes. After the funeral was over we took most of the plants to the nursing home. The staff was happy to have them, and the residents with no family were gifted with our plants.
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Old 02-12-2015, 11:53 PM   #6
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Thank you lets cook. When my sister died, after the wake, the whole fam damily came back to the building I live in and the residents saw the food being delivered before we returned. They set up the whole community room and had everything ready. Then they quietly left. All we had to do was grab a plate and get our food. My niece wanted to know who did all the work. She thought it was the catering people. Then when everyone had eaten and started to head home, a couple of people came in and cleaned up. The place was left spotless. There was some food left and we told the cleanup folks they could take it home or share it with others.

That gesture of setting up and then the cleanup was so deeply appreciated. The only folks in that room that they knew was me and my kids. There was more than 40 people that they had never seen before. A week later I received a beautiful thank you note from my niece to the people in the building that had quietly did all of the work for us. I posted it on the bulletin board in the lobby for everyone to see. I also wrote a note of my own expressing my own thank you for all they did.

It was after ten at night when we came back to eat. Everyone was tired and emotionally drained. To have all that work done for us was the best thoughtfulness we could have received. They didn't ask if they could help in any way. They just stepped in and did it. I have never forgotten what they did for my extended family that night. It will always stay in my heart.
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Old 02-13-2015, 07:52 AM   #7
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Great idea for a thread!

I agree with the idea of disposable pans utensils etc...

I like the idea of complete simple meals like a pan of lasagna, salad and garlic bread. If the family is swimming in food they can always toss the lasagna and bread into the freezer for a future meal. Also think about doing this a week or so after the funeral, it takes some time before people get back into a regular routine.

I also think that in today's busy world it is ok to give a gift certificate for a local delivery restaurant or deli, especially if teenage children are involved.

Sometimes things other than food can be helpful to people that you know well. Pitch in to do some cleaning, a load of laundry, run some errands, offer your spare room for out of town family or friends, take the kids to a movie or the dog for a walk etc...
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:17 AM   #8
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Thank you all for your comments.

We had one person bring 2 medium size pans of stuff shells with a note on one for cooking and another note on the other ready for freezer if necessary with freezing and cooking instructions, which worked out great as we also had a large pan of lasagna. She can cook that at any time.
Just a reminder, if someone does this for you, please send another thank you to that person as it is appreciated the first meal as well as the second meal.

Thank you all
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Old 02-13-2015, 11:03 AM   #9
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So sorry for your family's loss. Where I grew up, when someone died, bringing food was a given. Popular items were hotdishes (for those who aren't from MN-WI-ND, those would be casseroles), baked ham, sandwiches, homemade bread, desserts and salads. Appreciated items were those that froze well. Most of the time, the food started arriving the day after and continued for at least a week to 10 days. We always used disposable dishes and included instructions on how to reheat it or cook it.
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Old 02-13-2015, 01:54 PM   #10
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These are all excellent and well thought ideas.
Let me add one more nobody has mentioned.


When I was widowed not only was I gifted with food, but with cash. I know that sounds a bit crass, but that cash meant the world to me. It turns out my best friend called everyone to offer that suggestion and the outpouring of cards with cash, along with food was overwhelming and took me to my thankful knees. The cost of dieing is a crushing burden in addition to the terrible loss. When I look at his beautiful tombstone I think of all his loved ones who gifted him with it.
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