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Sympathy Meals 101

Published: March 14, 2019

Those who have faced a highly stressful time in their lives, such as major surgery, the birth of a baby, or a transition to a new home, know just how helpful and comforting it is to have someone else take care of the cooking. These meals, often referred to as sympathy meals, are also commonly associated with funerals. When someone you know experiences the death of a close loved one, providing home-cooked food is a great way to support them in their time of need. This small action can be a heartwarming blessing to those who are grieving. Here are a few things to consider before you start cooking.


Let someone in the family know you will be bringing a meal and offer them a couple of dates to choose between. Because food allergies are common, send a little menu that includes a few different options so they can choose what they would prefer.


Additional relatives or visitors might be present for the meal, so be sure to provide extra. If you are making a meal that is to be eaten at the time of delivery, you could double the recipe and make the second one freezer-friendly. This is a great way to provide more support later on when life might still feel a bit overwhelming for the family.


You might want to consider how you personally would serve the dish and what else might be needed. Adding salad, dinner rolls, dessert, or even a beverage ensures that the family meal is completely taken care of. Use a disposable dish with baking instructions written on it. Throw in paper products, too, because the last thing they will feel like doing is washing dishes. Many people like to include a couple of inexpensive toys for children or a few basic grocery items such as fruit and eggs. These are added extras that might make life just a little bit easier for those dealing with a recent loss.


Most likely, the best way to drop off your meal is to let them know when you plan to leave it at the door. However, depending on the person, you should also be prepared to stay and chat if they are wanting to spend time with a friend.

Not a cook? Can’t squeeze in the time? Want to be different?

While a home-cooked meal might be most people’s first thought, there are other ways to provide a bit of cooking relief to those who are going through a difficult time. Including a gift card to a local restaurant that delivers or offers carryout is a great option, particularly if you suspect the family might already be receiving several casseroles in the next few days. There are also many online meal services that can be ordered and have delivered to the family.

Writing an Obituary

Published: March 5, 2019


A common assumption is that an obituary is merely a death notice. While that might be the case for newspaper submissions, funeral homes generally include full obituaries on their websites and on memorial folders for no additional cost. Therefore, writing an obituary is also a precious chance to express a loved one’s legacy and share parts of their life story from the very beginning to the very end. If you are looking to create a well-written, meaningful obituary, here are a few pieces of advice that will help guide you through the process.

Consider Organization

Jumping around with facts and descriptions makes it too hard for the reader to follow. Chronological order is almost always going to be your best option for arranging events and accomplishments. You might also want to follow up the timeline approach with a paragraph that emphasizes the nature of this person’s character and what they will be remembered for.

Use Personal Details and Examples

Individuality can be achieved in an obituary by offering specific details rather than a generic overview. Don’t simply list where your loved one lived and worked over the course of their life. Consider what made this person unique. Give an example or offer a quick anecdote to help illustrate descriptions.

Know That It’s OK to Be Funny

Or reserved. Or sarcastic. Or boastful. Or whatever you feel would be fitting for your loved one. The tone and style of the obituary should match the personality of its leading subject.

Have Someone Else Proofread It

Reading and rereading your work is great, but you will also want someone else’s input. You might even want two people to help you out, such as someone else who was close to the one who passed and someone who is more removed from the situation. Besides catching things like minor punctuation and spelling errors, ask them for their overall impressions, too. The funeral provider you are working with can also help ensure the obituary is as good as it can be before you submit it for publication.

Keep Perspective

Writing an obituary is no simple feat. Feeling like you’ve done your best to pay tribute to a loved one is the main goal. Overall, if you are given the important opportunity of writing an obituary for someone you knew and loved, try to remember the essential focus: an obituary is actually about life.

What is a celebration of life?

Published: March 1, 2019

When it comes to traditional funeral service practices, some people might envision a solemn ceremony in a formal setting with a focus on scripture. However, many families today are looking for a more personally meaningful experience when honoring a loved one who has passed. As a result, celebrations of life are becoming increasingly popular. In a broad sense, a celebration of life is a modern take on a funeral service or ceremony, but the specific definition may vary from one family to another. While religious elements are often still included, a celebration of life goes beyond a traditional mindset and places the most emphasis on doing just as it claims: celebrating the life lived and the legacy left behind.

A celebration of life should be one-of-a-kind and highly memorable. Families who choose a celebration of life may opt for a unique venue, such as at a lake, which often creates a more casual atmosphere. Little creative features can make a big impact not only on the families served but also on all who attend. Andrew Yaggie, a licensed funeral director and certified funeral celebrant at Glende-Nilson Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, recognizes the need for celebrations of life in a time when a more traditional or universal approach is not what everyone might want. He has a deep desire to meet the individual needs of those seeking his direction and to encourage families to carefully consider their options. Parking John Deere tractors outside the funeral home, asking people to wear a superhero shirt, and using a motorcycle escort are a few of the personalized features he has helped families include in their final farewells.

No matter how much of a celebration is involved, however, funeral directors do not take assisting the bereaved lightly. Yaggie says, “Some families see a ‘celebration of life’ as merely a party and as a way of circumventing their grief or a formal ceremony, but those who have lost a loved one still need to come together in support for a time of meaningful remembrance.” That is why a funeral director plays a vital role in supporting and guiding families through the process, even if they desire a more informal event.

Celebration of Life services can require a fair amount of coordination and extra time spent by the funeral home staff to incorporate requests, though the efforts are well worth it. Yaggie’s advice to anyone desiring a celebration of life is to block out the norms they might have observed in more traditional funeral service. He says, “Think outside of the box. Every life is unique and worth remembering. How do you want to be remembered?”

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