Monday, May 20, 2013

Death Norms

Someone died across the street from us on Saturday. They haven't been well for awhile - I actually don't know who it was (never met the deceased, in other words - my impression was they didn't get out much at all). But I'm acquainted with the other people in the household and they've had ambulances come by every couple weeks for the last several months, so it wasn't a surprise that their health was starting to fail. The street has been packed with various cars from visiting family the last two days.

In the next day or two (once things settle down) I want to bring over flowers and some food. My question is, what is a good food gift on an occasion like this? The stereotypical thing seems like casserole but that seems stupid and... stereotypical. What about something like banana bread? That's got a homey feel to it but not quite so cliché. Or should I just bring flowers and a card and forget the food?

This is the sort of thing you don't really see in the same way in an anonymous apartment where neighbors aren't really neighbors in the same way, but it's the sort of thing that I never personally dealt with on my own growing up before apartment living.

I guess I'm also just curious about death norms of readers in general and experience offering comfort to someone that you sort of know but have only been living near for a year.


  1. Flat wheat pancakes. A solar symbol, sometimes also symbolizing the link between the dead and the living, between this world and the otherworldish.

    Actually, I find this intention of yours kinda strange. In my culture the relatives of the deceased person are supposed to provide food, not vice versa.

  2. Banana bread would be a good choice or brownies, cookies. Casseroles are more commonly brought by people close and deserts by acquaintances in my limited experience.

  3. I would say banana bread or brownies, but don't put any nuts in because so many people have allergies. I would also suggest waiting at least another few days. People tend to snow the mourners with food and then--nothing. So it's nice when someone comes out of the blue a week or two later.

  4. I would go with doing nothing. If you would not go to the funeral, you do not know them well enough to be dropping off food. You don't even know who died or what their relationship was to the others. The deceased could be an eighty year old or an eight year old. Watch for a death announcement in the local paper. If you find out who died, you could send a card.

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