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Eating Well After the Death of A Loved One

Updated on July 9, 2013
Home made Love and Kisses cookies
Home made Love and Kisses cookies | Source

Losing Your Zest for Eating

When you experience the loss of a loved one there are a myriad of changes that take place in your life. In order to stay strong and focused, one of the main things that needs to happen is you need to eat well. The problem is you don't feel like eating no less cooking.

I lost my husband John 3 years ago unexpectedly. There were so many new responsibilites coming at me I didn't know what to put first. Eating has to be something you put first so it was very comforting to have friends bring food for those first two months. Of course that can't go on forever and you have to fend for yourself eventually.

John used to eat anything I would make and that made it a joy to cook, but my 15 and 9 year olds don't have that same attitude. Don't get me wrong, they are good eaters but would prefer to have simple meals and the joy of cooking simply was gone from my being.

Meals Schmeals

For quite some time we foraged through the dinner meal, and often time would get some food from the outside. I just could not get motivated to come home and cook a meal. My mind was a blur and I simply could not piece together a meal. I splurged and had the kids buy lunch at school knowing that was a balanced meal. I also never let them leave the house without something for breakfast. Fortunately, the kids are great at eating fresh veggies and fruits but I knew we needed a more complete and balanced meal to end the day.

Fresh veggies
Fresh veggies | Source

A Fabulous Solution

It took me two and a half years to get out of the rut but here is what helped change our dinnertime. Someone gifted me a years subscription to Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine. For 3 months it just sat on the bookshelf (along with scads of other cookbooks). Then one day as I was headed to the store to shop (for what I don't know) I asked the kids what they would like me to make for dinner - I got the regular answers: pizza, taquitos, Ramen noodles. All the things we had reverted to eating in a pinch.

I was frustrated and knew I needed a different solution so I got out the magazines, gave the kids paper and pencil and had them go through the magazines and write down some dinner ideas. They scribbled away and low and behold came up with a dozen answers to our problem!

Off to the store I went coming home with one of the suggestions. Every single piece of food was gone from both of their plates that night. Not only was it good and fresh, we all felt good that together we decided what to do. Over the course of a few weeks we made most everything on their lists and I was always careful to point out whose idea it was and thank them for their input.

Rachel Ray Saves The Day

This magazine is good for several reasons. The index is easy to read and there is a visual of the meal. It's kid friendly and there are some articles I look forward to every month also.

Rachel encourages kids to cook so not only were we using her magazine, they remembered watching her on the Food Network. This was one of my 9-year olds favorite pastimes with her older sister who has moved out of state.

Also, each issue seems to be semi-seasonal so they can be used over and over again. In that light, eBay has a great selection of some past issues.

How Can You Help A Grieving Family With Meals?

There are several things you can do to help someone suffering from a loss to get through this stage of mealtime.

  • Invite the grieving family over for dinner. It does not have to be a special occassion. Even a weeknight or school night will do. No lingering is necessary, just having company to dine with is supreme.
  • Purchase a gift card to a restaurant for the grieving family. A wonderful gift on a night when driving kids around does not afford you the time to cook dinner.
  • Make an extra portion and keep some food in your freezer ready and waiting to give to someone on a moments notice.
  • Create a CareCalendar for the grieving family. All it takes is one coordinator and a ready supply of volunteers to sign up for meals. This was a life saver for us in the first few months.
  • Go grocery shopping for the family. Get a list and if you can afford it, pay for the food. If not, I'm sure the family will offer to pay (or give you money ahead of time).

Sharing Is Caring

In summary, I hope you can take some of these ideas and use them yourself or pass them along to someone who can use the ideas. I have found that using these experiences of my own, has been therapeutic for me and hopefully benefitted someone else.

Please Post Any Ideas You Have to Share

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    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      5 years ago from Florida

      It is so easy for bereaved people to walk around numb for a while. We don't think of food. In fact after my husband died at age 52 quite unexpectedly I didn't care if I lived or died my self. I had four young children to think about (and make sure they got fed).

      I have always liked Rachel Ray. I enjoy cooking especially baking.

      I just read your profile and I have to say , I admire you very much.

      Voted this UP, etc.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hello johnr54, just had another look at this, and it is very good. My thoughts are with you. Hope you are doing OK.

    • profile image

      Alicia Foley 

      5 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you for sharing your experiences in this Hub. This is very helpful not only for those struggling with grief but for those who are unsure how to help.

    • unknown spy profile image

      Not Found 

      5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      thanks for sharing this..experienced it once in my life takes forever to heal.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      A great Hub! So glad that mine inspired you! Really well written. Sorry I missed it 4 days ago, just found your comments on the stats page.

    • johnr54 profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanie Ruppel 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Cheryl - another truth spoken - "food seems so unnecessary when you have lost a loved one." One of my memories of the night we found out my husband had no brain activity left is a friend putting a plate in front of me with very small portions and saying, "you must eat something." How smart of that person (can't remember who it was!!) to know a small portion was important. I remember eating some of it, but not much.

      We are on a much better track now! Thx for your comment.

    • johnr54 profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanie Ruppel 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Nell - you speak such a truth when you say "not that I can remember much at the time". Our bodies work in such a defensive way when we are mourning the loss of a loved one. Thankfully, I can think much more straight now! Cheers to you!

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 

      5 years ago from Houston, TX

      Thanks for sharing your encouraging hub. Food seems so unnecessary when you have lost a love one. Getting back on track is a very difficult and challenging task. A very interesting hub.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      Hi, I totally understand what you mean, when I lost my mum, dad, aunt, friend, I was so glad I had my partner to help me, he fed my son and me not that I can remember much at the time, but your ideas are a great way to get back to eating, wonderful idea, voted up and shared! nell

    • johnr54 profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanie Ruppel 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Thank you, we continue to take it one day at a time with many blessings poured upon us always.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Losing a loved one is awful and getting back to a normal life is difficult. Meals are one thing that can be conveient, if not healthy. It is good that you got back into cooking for your family. I am sorry for your loss and hope your days are getting better.


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