“I forget how to prepare meals” is a comment I have heard several times from the primary cook in a family after a sudden and/or traumatic death loss, which is defined by the individual, not myself. You may wonder how someone can forget how to cook meals.
Consider for a moment what the grieving person may be trying to handle in their life after this loss. If it is a parent who has had a child die, the parent may be having tremendous difficulty going on with their own life, let alone make a meal.
I have heard stories of older men who never cooked and now that their wife has died, they do not know what to do. One such person went to every church supper and bought extras to take home for another day.
No matter what the loss scenario is, some people may have difficulty making daily decisions and trying to act as if they are “okay” on the outside, but in reality, have not made a decent meal in months.
Forgetting what food to cook, what ingredients to use, and not having the energy to do what was once a common activity such as going to the grocery store, can become a new reality for some people. The fact that now the same items do not need to be bought is sometimes a trigger to preparing meals.
Often, I have heard individuals say, “Our take-out food bill is way too high, but I just can’t do it…I can’t play the same role I played before”. For some people they know they are not the same anymore and will never be the person they were prior to their loss. Life may have no meaning and it may take a long time for that to change.
“Toast or cereal is enough for me”; I wonder how many people feel or think the same way. One person stated it took two years before they felt able to prepare regular meals. Take a moment and picture yourself experiencing a sudden or traumatic loss; how fast would or could you get back to preparing appropriate meals for you or someone else?
All my best,
Barbara Saunders is a Grief Counsellor/Thanatologist