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Tue., March 22, 2011, 10:47 a.m.

Soft foods during grief

Our first column ran today in The Spokesman-Review. And one of the QAs concerned what food to take to a grieving home.

Go for the soft stuff, the column advises, because sometimes in crisis and grief it feels like a lot of work just to chew food! And many folks lose their appetites.

In her wonderful book about widowhood, The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion talked about how in 1920s-era etiquette books, people were urged to go to the home of someone grieving and lift broth to their lips.

In Joyce Carol Oates superb memoir, A Widow's Story, she relates having no appetite whatsoever and a great frustration with the food baskets that kept arriving at her door, filling her with rage. Then, she discovered a fruit drink that worked for her.

Better even than meals hastily dumped into bowls are bottles of Odwalla fruit-blend drinks. These were left for me in the courtyard a day or two after Ray died, a dozen or more in a plastic shopping bag, from a woman friend who is a novelist. You have to eat, Joyce she'd said and you won't want to eat. So drink this.

 A friend just introduced me to Muscle Milk Light, a chocolate high protein vitamin drink that doesn't contain any milk but is yummy and not too bad for you. That might be another option for the grieving.

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.