Grief Journal: Drive By Foodings

They say food is love. I have tangible proof of that love filling up my freezer.

One of the hardest things to manage after my son died, in the run up to the funeral and the immediate aftermath, was the food. 

My house looked like a church potluck exploded. We had what I called “drive-by foodings,” where I’d go out onto the porch and find containers of food. People I didn’t know rang the doorbell, hugged me, and handed over containers of food. My husband brought home food when he would run errands in town; people lay in wait and jumped out with lovingly prepared foil packages of carbohydrates. (This is the Midwest, so everything was mostly carbs, either sweet with chocolate, or savory with cheese.)

My office sent so much food for the post-funeral gathering that I had to put an emergency post out on Facebook, asking for volunteer refrigerator space. People shipped soup, baked goods and frozen delicacies.

Three different people tried to start meal trains. Luckily, they actually checked with me first, and I was able to stop those trains before they left the station, so to speak. It was just the four of us, and none of us were eating normally. The thought of dealing with a meal, delivered every night, and having to heat, serve, stare at the food, and then clean it up, was overwhelming.

Do I sound ungrateful? I’m not. Every single person who shared their food was sharing their love and their own grief. They just wanted to help, in a tangible way. It was amazing to see our friends and community come together and support us, and I will be forever grateful that so many people loved our son, and our family.

But. Damn, the sheer amount of food. I fed as much as I could to our family and friends the weekend of the funeral, but most came from out of town and there’s only so much they could eat. What I could, I froze. Some I forced on our lovely neighbors, who gave of themselves so unstintingly. What couldn’t be eaten or frozen, I gave myself permission to not stress about, and threw away.

Meanwhile, I have a freezer full of food. Every time I open the door, I am both humbled by the love that resides, lovingly prepared and packaged, at zero degrees. And I grieve anew that it is there at all.

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