Comfort, compassion and casseroles
April 16th, 2013
11:00 AM ET
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Drew Robinson is the pitmaster at Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q. He previously wrote about why barbecue matters. This post ran a while back, but it seemed worth surfacing today. See CNN's Impact Your World for ways to help the people of Boston.

My friend John Egerton told me once that sometimes when people have lost a loved one or are in despair all you can do is take them a bowl of potato salad and tell them you’re sorry.

He went on to say, emphatically, that there is great power in that sort of action. John spoke specifically about Southern foodways at that moment, but there was a universal truth in his message. I know from personal experience on the receiving end that is true and it is even more powerful when that compassion is delivered in numbers.

Tragedy has the ability to suffocate us. Like the song says, “Death don’t have no mercy.” Once the grip of devastation gets a hold of us as individuals or as communities it is almost impossible for one individual to pull themselves out of that grip. It is in those times of human frailty that we realize that tragedy strips us of all nutrition. We become devoid of all things that give fertility to our lives in a physical, emotional, or spiritual sense. These are the times when we truly need our community, but they are also the times when we need to understand how we can contribute to our community.

Read more - Serving up gratitude in troubled times

More on food, grieving and comfort:

Bringing healing to Newtown, one pie at a time

Filling the void – eating after a funeral

Roasted chicken soup for the banged-up soul

Pouring whiskey in the wound – eating and drinking after 9/11

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Filed under: Culture • Rituals

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. t3chsupport

    I'm sure the trolls will arrive shortly to say what a horrible idea it is to try to comfort grieving people, or bringing them food when they are grieving. But they'll find something negative in anything.

    When people are grieving, it's often the furthest thing from one's mind to make food and feed themselves. Grief hurts more than hunger, but hunger doesn't help anything at all. It can actually make you even more depressed. It's easier to convince someone to eat the soup or casserole that's in the fridge that was brought by someone who cares than it is to convince them to cook or eat out, especially if they are alone.

    Besides that, it brings people together. Food has always been the center of community.

    It's also the only way some people can really show their condolences. Words are meaningless, often even to the people delivering them. But there's something that feels better about putting effort into something tasty and comforting for those most affected. When someone dies, you're already powerless to really help, but at least you're working at SOMETHING with them in mind. It shows that you care beyond the effort required for flowers or a Hallmark card.

    April 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Jerv

      Thanks for the great read Drew and t3, I loved your post.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bob1god

      I do me share of trolling (it's fun) , but good article & post.

      April 17, 2013 at 6:05 am |
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