No One Brings Food When Your Daughter Is an Addict

updated Jun 7, 2019
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(Image credit: Robert Neubecker/Slate)

One of the most moving food reads I’ve encountered recently had little to do with recipes, but much to do with how food is a stand-in for compassion and empathy. Larry Lake writes about how, when his wife had cancer, everyone brought casseroles. When his daughter had mental health crises? Not so much.

It’s a beautifully written piece and it highlights the way that overt crises bring out the gifts of food and meals, but more tense and less easily resolved moments do not. But perhaps they should. I didn’t read this piece as a criticism of Lake’s friends, but as a commentary on how different kinds of crisis and grieving are more difficult for those who love us to understand and to comfort.

Certain types of pain can feel invisible or hidden — mental health and alcoholism, miscarriage and infertility, job loss, a parent’s slow decline. The need for the ease and comfort of a homemade meal isn’t as apparent, or may not even be known.

But this piece made me think a little more about my friends and family, and the times when a casserole or a batch of cookies, left on the doorstep, might be a welcome gift.