“Cooking alone is the sixth stage of grief”

Illustration for article titled “Cooking alone is the sixth stage of grief”
Photo: DGLimages (iStock)
Hot LinksHot LinksWe spend way too much time on the internet

The New York Times published a touching story yesterday about widows (now a gender-neutral term) who are adjusting to cooking and eating without their spouses. Some find themselves buying too many groceries because they’re still shopping for two. Some don’t see the point in cooking anymore—or they never learned to cook in the first place—and resort to junk food. Some are physically unable to eat.


Writer Amelia Nierenberg talked to widows around the country and spent some time with support groups where people learn to adjust their shopping and eating habits and cook meals together so they don’t have to eat alone.

It’s only been in the last decade or so that researchers and counselors have started to study how grief affects eating habits. “It’s almost like the sixth stage of grief is cooking alone,” one New York grief counselor told Nierenberg. The support groups provide advice and companionship: “You need to eat to live, they remind each other, and you need to keep on living.”

Associate editor of The Takeout. Chicagoan. Owned by dog.


“The hardest part is mealtime”. Well, they’re sure as hell not wrong.

I appreciate that “widow” is now gender-neutral but for me, I was an “orphan” for lack of any better term when I was 20. It seems too old at 20 to use that word to describe myself but I had no siblings, no extended family, no anyone after my parents died and there really isn’t a word I know of to describe someone who is for all intents and purposes still too young to be 100% independent but at the same time grown up by most legal metrics.

Anyway, my parents always made a point of making dinner time a family thing for the three of us. Weekend breakfasts too.

There was a lot for me to deal with when they died (serious understatement) and I didn’t always make the best choices. But sitting down to an empty kitchen with some sad-ass plate of mac and cheese or a hot dog or a pizza that I’d ordered-in was what nearly broke me.

I could have used a support group back then but that’s also what I say now through a much older lens. I probably would have pushed-back on any suggestions, told everyone I was fine and gone on with my struggle.

...Sorry to unload but this article hit me.