The Gift of a Meal: It’s Not Just about the Food

This summer after the birth and death of our daughter, Annie Rose, many wonderful families brought us meals, cookies, muffins, cupcakes – you name it, we gratefully received it all! It was such a blessing to not have to think about dinner plans for the first couple of months following Annie’s birth, and for our children to see in a tangible way how much the community cared for our family. I think that I’ve heard others say this before, but part of my grieving process very early on was that I had a hard time doing normal, everyday things. Take cooking a meal, for example: I would open the refrigerator, see that there was food inside, and say to myself, “I know that if I take these items out of the refrigerator, put them together in a pan, and cook them, somehow they will turn into a meal for my family. But I just can’t figure it out right now!”

Not only did these meals and goodies provide sustenance for my family when I couldn’t, but they also provided comfort, continuity, and a constant reminder that we were not in this thing called Grief alone. When I sat down to a delicious meal, I felt surrounded by those who had prepared it. The experience was so much more than just eating; it was, truly, an experience of communion with others, and a reminder that others were remembering Annie along with our family. For the first few weeks after Annie’s birth, I didn’t have any appetite, and had it been up to me I might not have eaten much wholesome food. With these meals, however, I ate what others provided for me, not only because I knew that I needed to eat for strength, but because I needed to know that others were taking care of me. For someone who can be stubbornly independent, this was a small miracle, and just one of the many ways that God provided for us. Every night, we made sure to thank God for the family that had prepared the meal for us, so that our children could remember to be grateful. I’m not sure that we got thank you notes out to all those who helped us during that time, but at least they were acknowledged in prayer!

On Wednesday, I will be providing a meal for a family that has just welcomed a new baby. Although they are not grieving, they are going through the challenging process of adapting to a new little person in their home, and they also need to be taken care of a little bit! From now on when I make a meal for a family, I will remember that what I am providing is so much more than just food. The dinner does not need to be perfect – it doesn’t even need to be completely homemade! Simply providing sustenance for someone in need is more than enough…although a little bit of buttercream frosting can’t hurt, either 🙂

May God bless you as you begin this week. Mary, Queen of Families, pray for us!

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  • All the baked zitis and homemade meals that we got when our little one was born were so comforting and appreciating. Our Newcomers Club runs a group that delivers meals in time of need and I love being a part of it and passing along the good vibes and support to the family receiving the meal.

  • JMB

    I don’t know if you are familar with Heather King. She is a writer and has a blog called “Shirt of Flame”. A few months ago she posted a beautiful essay about Jesus and food. If I was better at the computer, I’d link it to you. This reminded me of her blog post. God bless you – I’ve been praying for your family.