Take it from our staff at Krause Funeral Homes: Sympathy meals are a wonderful way to express care and meet a practical need. Throughout our many decades helping families in Milwaukee, New Berlin, and Brookfield, we have heard time and time again that gifts of food are remembered long after the funeral is over.
Thanks to our years of experience, we’ve also accrued knowledge when it comes to the “do’s and don’ts” of walking alongside those who are grieving. Here are our top tips and suggestions to keep in mind:
- Oftentimes, if you give the option to drop off a meal, a family will protest or decline. They don’t want you to go through any trouble and may feel awkward accepting the offer. We recommend letting them know food is on the way, giving a few dates to choose from to drop off a meal, or simply leaving food on their doorstep if you’re sure they’re home. Along those lines, don’t plan to go inside to visit unless you’re sincerely invited and feel comfortable doing so.
- Pack food in containers that don’t need to be returned, and be sure to communicate that you don’t need them back. You might also consider include napkins, a case of water bottles, silverware, and paper towels for easy cleanup.
- Avoid common or serious allergens (peanuts, shellfish) and foods people have strong opinions about (anything spicy, for example). Depending on dietary issues, you may also include a list of ingredients.
- Consider sending the family an order form of 3-5 meals to choose from. Many of our Milwaukee neighbors have shared that they’ve received “too many lasagnas to eat.” Allowing a selection from a variety of dishes may be appreciated.
- If the thought of preparing a meal creates stress, purchase a gift card to an area restaurant or coffee shop and include it with a sympathy card. It’s much more important to show support than show off your culinary skills. Plus, families can use the gift card at their convenience, even if this is weeks or months after the death.
- If there are directions for heating, serving, and storing extras, make sure they’re clearly labeled.
- Instead of bringing a meal for lunch or dinner, think about dropping off breakfast foods like an egg dish, bagels and cream cheese, or pastries (purchased or homemade). Another quick option is to put together a bag of groceries with ready-to-eat foods from the deli and pre-cut vegetables and fruit.
- Sometimes a family will be overloaded with food right after a death, so an easy-to-freeze dish is a good option. You might also consider waiting a few weeks to deliver food. The toughest times of the grief journey are often after the funeral is over and family has gone home – but the reality of the loss is just setting in.
The bottom line is that a grieving family will appreciate any assistance after a loss. If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one, you know how much it means to have people surround you, both literally and figuratively.
Our Krause staff wants you to remember that we are always here to offer support. Take a look at our grief resources and our interactive grief support, and reach out to us any time by phone or in person at any of our four locations around Milwaukee. We are honored to be part of this community – and hope to be part of yours as well.