Funeral Home Traditions
Funeral food is a memorial tradition whose importance is often overlooked, but, nevertheless, it is a key part of assuring that a time of grief can also be a time of comfort for those who have lost a loved one. Here are some tips for getting the most out of funeral food during your time of need.
The first thing to consider is whether to hire a caterer for your funeral food needs. Catering companies often charge rates that are less expensive that one might imagine, and as those involved in planning a funeral are busy with a myriad of other details - making arrangements with funeral directors, assuring that out of town family members arrive safely and have good accommodations, and making plans for what to do with the deceased's earthly possessions – being able to rely on a professional catering service to assure that everyone has a comfortable amount of funeral food can be a great blessing. Budgetary concerns may, in fact, prohibit the hiring of a funeral food caterer, but, before you decide that for certain, it's best to at least make one or two inquiries of what the charges would be. Many funeral homes themselves either offer catering services in house or have plenty of recommendations for funeral food caterers who can accommodate just about any budget.
If hiring a caterer for your funeral food needs is not a viable option, then a good alternative is to order take-out food from a delicatessen or restaurant. In many cases – particular in today's large super markets – take-out trays stacked high with fresh cold cuts and sandwiches are available for immediate pick-up at just about any time for a surprisingly low price. It is becoming quite common – and certainly very acceptable – in today's modern times for families who have lost a loved one to ask visitors who have arrived for a memorial service to please contribute a small amount to a food “kitty” that will be used to buy funeral food for before and/or after the service.
But if even ordering funeral food as take out is not an option financially, all is not lost. Funeral food prepared by the family itself is often the key ingredient to a comforting and uplifting funeral experience. (In fact, many families who have more than enough money to hire a caterer for their funeral food will choose to prepare a meal itself, not so much out of economic need but, rather, from an emotional need.) Sharing a fun-filled barbeque meal with friends and family is becoming more and more of a common tradition after funerals today and, in fact, many people have been known to specifically request as part of their final wishes that a specific talented family chef be invited to prepare a feast for the entire family as a celebration of his or her life. In these instances, of course, the featured family chef will usually require plenty of assistance from others in the family. (Cooking funeral food for potentially hundreds who have gathered for a memorial service can be a daunting task.) And such events are often very uplifting and healing experiences for all involved.
Probably the most important thing to keep in mind about funeral food is that it doesn't have to be anything sophisticated or fancy to be valuable as a tool for the grieving family members. In one recent case, for example, a family in Colorado had very simple breakfast tacos available to all who arrived at the funeral home on the morning of the memorial service. Then after the service, the family invited all in attendance to join them for coffee and cookies in a modest-sized reception hall that had been donated for the memorial service. In both cases, the food – while it was prepared with much love and talent – was a comforting secondary focus. While family and friends nourished their bodies with the treats, the more important factor of fellowship took center stage. The rooms in which the funeral food was served were decorated with pictures, military medals and other memorabilia from the life of the deceased, and those items served as a guide to inspiring loving conversation amongst the attendees. Good funeral food is sure to compliment such a mood.
A final thing to consider in relation to funeral food is to make sure that those in the deceased's immediate family are well supplied with prepared food for at least a week after a death. During that time, emotions typically are running very high and normal routines are completely out of kilter. Cooking food (and then cleaning up afterwards) is understandably the least thing on the family's agenda. If this need is not met by others, then, it is easy for nutrition and relaxation needs to take a back seat. And this can lead to even more stress and turmoil for a troubled family. So, if you should find yourself ever wanting to help a family that has lost a loved one, why not volunteer to be their personal chef for several days after a death. Such a gift of funeral food will certainly be very welcomed indeed.