Food for memorial

When the father in law died, we were able to confirm, after some research, that there was a family plot at a local cemetery. Buried there were my wife’s grandfather and great- grandfather, together with the ashes of one of her uncles. Although not what we’d call a “paupers grave” in the UK, it had no headstone - earlier generations would not have had the money to pay for one. We’ve now bought a headstone which includes the four names of the men buried there and my wife’s grandmother (whose ashes were scattered over the grave), with space for one additional name (probably my mother in law).


Dad was only 16 when his dad died in 1929. Dad’s mom died before I (the youngest) was born in 1964. I don’t know where his parents are buried (probably a paupers’ grave); mom’s parents have a humble gray stone in a known Catholic cemetery.

Dad prioritized his plot and erected a grand black marble headstone which, unfortunately was used by his oldest daughter before him. Mom’s name and dob is already carved. We have room for two more . . . me and some random relative?

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I’m very glad to read this, John.


It may well be possible to do research and find out, if you wished.

My paternal grandparents, who died in the 1950s are buried at the parish church, along with two of their children who died from scarlet fever in the early 1900s. Subsequent family members have all been cremated, with their ashes scattered at the main local cemetery, which is nature of most funerals in the UK over recent years. So no physical memorial for any of them. My own preference is for a woodland burial so, again, no physical memorial other than I hope a tree will be planted for me. And that everyone has a bloody good feast afetrwards.


Harters, that is such a disappointment as obviously his old local was a natural setting. We had a friend who was a very important pivot in our social (and cultural, and in some respects working) circle. He was not a young man but had been hale and hearty until the fatal disease struck.

Linda, I don’t think I’ve every heard the term merci meal in any language (French, English, Italian, Spanish) though we are just north of you in “New France”. But it certainly exists, and I was sad and furious when a late friend’s wish - he died at only 37 - was confiscated by his rather nasty and bigoted family. I didn’t care that there was only thin church coffee and horrid de-crusted sandwiches - we were far to upset - but it was a betrayal of what HE wanted. Not the only case of such things - brilliant - and gay - son of a working-class family. I’m still sad thinking about it and it certainly wasn’t because I longed for good wine, good coffee and quality sandwiches (or other food).

This is an important topic and there is no reason to be ashamed to discuss sombre topics. Food had always been integral to important stages in the human condition, from birth to death and including marriage, graduation (from university or from an apprenticeship) and many other life passages.


@lagatta, your post reminded me of a very good friend who passed two years ago. Despite saying there would be a memorial, nothing was ever done for her by her family. Her brother used a terrible photo of her and wrote a lame obituary, about 3 months after she passed. She would have been horrified, mostly about the obit, but that no one gathered in her honor. I wanted and should have written my own obituary of her. In any case, I’m sad that I didn’t get to honor her, and say farewell, in that final way. I wouldn’t have cared about the food, either.

But speaking of food after funerals or memorials - in relatively recent times, but not so much now, a funeral was often held three days after a passing. During those early days of grieving, especially when unexpected, the bereaved often had little to no appetite. After the planning and formalities of the final service, a huge relief was/is often felt, and with it an appetite for food and drink. I always feel better when people have a decent “send off”.

I’m so sorry about your friend who died young, and also wasn’t acknowledged for who he was and what he did in his life.

Chairs are essential if you have people of a certain age or with mild disabilities. I cycle and/or walk every day, but I have arthritis and am in great pain if I have to stand up for long periods without respite.


Were those also Orthodox? I imagine there were some bonds between Greek and Slavic Orthodox. (I know a fellow who is half Egyptian (Coptic) and half Russian).

I just wanted to put out there for my own piece of mind … having been to around, if not well over, a hundred funerals and memorial services (sad but true) … there is no “right” way to grieve. People do what is right for them at that point in time - everyone else just needs to roll with it and give others room to do what they need to do … its a hard time.


For a variety of reasons, it was a month between the death of my FiL and his funeral. There were delays at the hospital with the paperwork. The local coroner also requires referrals of all deaths in hospital within 24 hours of admittance. Further delay. And we couldnt then schedule the funeral until all the official processes had been completed - then there was a two week delay with the cemetery. By the time it came around, I think there was a feeling of “let’s just get it over with now”.

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First off, my condolences to you and your family.
My father passed away last May, but because of scheduling, we didn’t have his Celebration of Life until July. My Dad’s wife arranged with her church and their volunteers to have an informal get together with snack foods and drinks at the church hall. That night I coordinated a dinner for close relatives at at local BBQ joint (in Texas) that had a private room. I hope things go well and he gets the send off he deserves.

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Update: The service is tomorrow and here is the final catering menu, with commentary.

Cream Cheese & Chive Stuffed Dates - these were Carl’s favorite appetizer
Mini Crab Cake - with Mustard Dressing - Roasted Carrot Puree - Red Veined Sorrel - we’re in the shadow of Chesapeake Bay and Carl liked crab balls
Lamb Slider - Greek Garlic Bread - Wilted Spinach - Feta Cheese Spread - Braised Beef - this was as close as we could get to spanakopita given logistics
Roasted Eggplant & Balsamic “Boat” - Cube of Eggplant with a drizzle of Balsamic reduction and Oven Roasted Tomato Jam with Mint Oil served in Bamboo “Boat” with a skewer
Almond & Vanilla Madelines dipped in White Chocolate with Lemon Cream
Assorted Cookies

Assortment of Cheeses and Roasted & Raw Vegetable Display with Hummus and Flatbreads

  • Selection of Regional/Local Cheeses and will also include fresh goat cheese, a cheddar and a similar style of Jalsburg
  • Variety of Grapes, Dried Fruits, Spiced Nuts, Whole Grain Mustard, Preserves
  • Roasted & Raw Vegetables to include: carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussell sprouts, cucumbers, celery, radish

No chafing dishes due to some inconvenient venue requirements (Washington Navy Yard Navy Museum). Warm foods are in insulated containers that look quite nice. Hot boxes in the catering delivery van. Everything is sized for finger food so no utensils scattered around. I’m off within the hour to walk through the venue.

I appreciate all the thoughts and input. Catherine and I went through all the posts - they were most helpful - in deciding how to proceed. Thank you all.

It is clear that dying is a paperwork-intensive process. Remembering someone on a military facility simply adds to the volume of paper. After much deliberation I have decided not to die, so y’all are stuck with me.


Thoughts with you for tomorrow, Dave. It’ll be a hard day.

You make a good decision on your personal future. It’s a bugger otherwise.


This is a feast to celebrate Carl. :heart: And yes, paperwork is quite abundant with a death in the family. Wishing for lots of good stories being told about Carl tomorrow. They’ll help the heart during a very difficult day.


Thoughts for all of you. I’m not leaving this earth any time soon either but I hope my send off Is half as thoughtful. Warm memories are a gift.


We have a couple of plan B arrangements kicking in (anything this complex is a game of Whac-A-Mole). I’m still worried about parking. Force Protection Condition Bravo has been set (threat of terrorism). Some things are breaking our way. My catering friend found a cache of plates he forgot he had. That’s the biggest food-related issue.

Late yesterday the question of whether a LTGEN (three stars) or a RADM (two stars) would attend was resolved. They are both coming. That’s exciting and reflects the regard in which Carl is held. An award from General Milley (four stars, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, not attending) will be presented posthumously at the reception after the service. It’s taken effort to pull off a lot of things but honoring Carl is worth it.

I’ll let you know how the food works out.


I got home Friday evening, ate leftovers, and went to bed. Saturday I got up, ate, and took a nap, had lunch, took a nap, early dinner, and went to bed. I’m starting to feel caught up.

Number one lesson relearned was that a good caterer is the most important thing for a successful event. Shawn–who happens to be a friend–sorted out a number of things while I was in the service that made the reception a success. You need someone who will NOT say “not my job” and whose judgment you trust. This applies to self-catering as well as to commercial.

The food was really good and just exactly what was in the final list, above. Avoiding chafing dishes was a good call as it made breakdown a lot faster and avoided overtime charges for the venue.

We ended up with a lot more people than expected but Shawn had over-prepped and we had plenty of food. My biggest concern for a while was the fire marshal showing up to count noses.

There boxes of facial tissues I brought in were indeed sufficient.

I truly appreciate all the thoughts here and thank you all for giving me a place to unload a bit during planning.


I’m sorry.

Not sure how I missed this, or why I’m finding it now.

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You’re a good man. I cried reading your narrative. My younger brother was career Navy, enlisted, but made Master at Arms. He worked hard and played hard. Was an alcoholic and into drugs. The Navy kept him alive his whole career, despite his serving in the Kuwait invasion and both Iraq wars. He retired in San Diego and managed to survive inspite of determined Navy medical support until he committed suicide in a San Diego hotel room. A homeless vet. I was visiting my mother when we got the call from the San Diego County Coroner’s Office.

I only tell this story because of the celebration of his life we had as a family and a community in Columbus, Ohio, where our family originates. It was a beautiful celebration. His body had been cremated and interred at the Miramar National Cemetery in San Deigo. We had a lovely afternoon remembering him in the church function room. Each table was set with red, white and blue flowers in mason jars, reflecting his love of gardens and canning. We collated all of the photos we could find of him from childhood to Navy Officer and put them in individual plastic sleeves so people could pass them around the tables and tell stories about him and about our family.

We had prayers from the church pastor, acoustic guitar with his favorite songs, his friends and family (including me) spoke. He always said it wasn’t a party unless the cops came twice. He couldn’t have been more loved. And then there was the food!!! Everyone brought food. He loved Jamaican jerk wings, and loved pork and kraut, clam pie, smoked bluefish, stuffed quahogs, oysters on the half shell, his MIL’s spicy banana peppers canned in tomato sauce, my mother’s canned vegetable soup and home made bread, my cousin’s lasagna and my linguini with red clam sauce and my brother’s leg of lamb. We had a feast and remembered the man we loved and lost. Dessert was rhubarb cream pie.

I hope you can have happy memories.