Cooking Up Fond Memories
The grieving process and seeking closure after the death of someone special can take many unique forms. Even hospice care providers must find ways to heal after losing patients that come to mean so much too them.
Texas Hospice certified nursing assistant Natalie Weatherly found a very personal way to find closure when a patient's life ends. She cooks.
In getting to know hospice patients the conversation inevitably turns to cooking since it is a passion Natalie shares with so many patients. The topic of food and sharing recipes has been a way for her to connect with patients facing terminal illness. She has discovered comfort in making recipes that patients share with her, providing her a way to honor their memories and the full lives they led.
The first recipe that a patient shared with Natalie happened when she needed a dessert to serve for her family's upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. The patient offered her chocolate cake recipe, called Wacky Cake, and it was a hit with all who tried it. It blessed the patient to know that Natalie's family truly enjoyed it.
"After the patient was transitioned to continuous care, I wasn't able to see her," said Natalie. "She passed away shortly afterward and I decided that I would make her cake recipe to remember her by."
She found putting the effort into cooking what this person loved to eat gave her a sense of comfort.
Since then, other hospice patients have shared recipes. One patient's wife let Natalie try her apricot cake, which was one of her husband's favorite holiday treats that she made every holiday season.
Another patient was receiving care at her daughter's home during Christmas and the whole family was there, with Natalie being around quite often to administer care. The family wanted to share a delicious German cake filled with dates with Natalie and she thought it was excellent, especially since she was from Germany. And since it was a favorite of her patient, she got the recipe to remember this warm, generous 95-year-old friend.
"The main thing that making these recipes provides me is a better sense of closure", says Natalie. "It helps a great deal when I find myself missing them to know that I am making something they truly loved."
Natalie says she would love the opportunity to publish a collection of these recipes as a cookbook to honor them, a true keepsake for both loved ones and people who might not have met them.
"It would be a huge blessing for me to honor these special people and help keep their memories alive through sharing their favorite recipes with others."