When we hear of a death in our family or community often we feel a powerful urge to help, to offer comfort – and so, we bring food. Bringing food to the family is one of our most universal gestures of support in almost any culture.
It may be quicker to pick up something already prepared at the grocery store deli. Prepared foods certainly do save time and energy, which we need when we are coping with loss. Still the message of Death is a reminder to appreciate the gift we are for each other.
So when you wish to offer comfort through the gift of food do consider clearing a bit of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual space to give your attention and intention to the meaning behind the gesture.
Your preparations needn’t be complex. In fact, a simple dish is best. Any recipe that asks the cook to chop a little bit, combine liquid with solid, and apply heat can provide the time and space to bring our attention to the fullness of life and imbue our gift with our intention to support a friend who is facing the profound loss of someone they loved and depended upon
A small personal ritual to imbue a gift of food with intentions of support and comfort
First, gather your ingredients, cooking equipment, a candle, perhaps some ceremonial smudging plants or incense. Arrange them on the counter or table. Take a moment to feel grateful for all of the people and all the elements of the earth that came together to bring to this moment a knife, a bowl, some spice and everything else you see before you.
Before you begin pause for several deep breathes. Feel your feet on the floor. Bring your attention to the center of your forehead. Place your hands on your heart. Call to mind the family or person for whom you are about to prepare this gift of food. Let compassion expand your breath.
Light the candle.
Here are some suggested words you can say silently or aloud.
Spirit of Life, who alone knows the timing of birth and death, today I learned of the death of _______ and I feel sad for his/her family (of course express your own authentic feelings here).
I know that we must all make this same transition and yet the news carries with it the shadow of fear. It reminds me that I too must die someday as well as others I love.
So as I offer a prayer of comfort for the people who loved ________, who lost the one most dear to them, I pray also for myself and those who may one day have to carry on a while without me.
I come now to prepare this simple dish as a symbol of the comfort I hope to bring my friends and as a Call to Life from my heart.
You may wish to Call the Directions, if that is a custom you value or simply light some incense or smudge and gently blow the smoke as you turn in a clock-wise circle, acknowledging life’s manifesting order of birth, growth, letting go and death.
As you cut those ingredients that need cutting you might say something like:
Spirit (Goddess, Dear Lord, or you need not address the Divine at all if that is not authentic for you) my friend feels lost in the sorrow of separation from the one she loves. May he have peace of mind, freedom from worry, anxiety or fear.
Placing your hands around or over the vessel containing the dish’s liquid ingredients name the feelings you hope they will be able to experience at this time.
“May my friend have courage to embrace the sad mystery. May she have comfort. May laughter return once more to her heart “.
As you combine the solid ingredients call to mind your wishes for health and strength in your bereaved friend’s physical body.
“May this food provide nourishment and stamina for the journey ahead.”
As the heat combines the ingredients bring to mind our own magnificent Sun, the source of all nourishment on Earth, which never denies us its light even through the darkest night. Acknowledge that change is constant and in a universe so vast as ours the possibility exists for the return of comfort, peace and even joy.
“Life changes everything it touches. And touches everything it changes.”
By expanding this simple gesture of support into a personal ritual your gift of comfort can feel even more meaningful and bring comfort to your own heart as well.
From my heart,