A Feast of Friendship

Some Asian cultures have a tradition of preparing an elaborate meal for their deceased loved ones on the anniversary of their deaths. Those left behind spend all day cooking the loved one’s favorite foods, lay out a fabulous feast and let the deceased partake as they will. Afterward, family and friends gather around the table and eat the “leftovers.”

I was invited to such a feast yesterday by my very dear Thai friend. Although the occasion could have been a somber one, it was in fact a delightful family affair. My friend and her husband have embraced me and another woman who lost her husband as family, and truly, it does feel that way.

The food was beyond awesome, though I am ashamed to admit I didn’t catch the names of some of the dishes, and those I did pay attention to, I couldn’t even begin to spell. But there was chicken; duck; a sort of pork dumpling; cellophane noodles with shrimp; soup; Thai style hard-boiled eggs; a medley of mangosteen, rambutan and litchi fruit; fresh mangos, bananas, grapes. Oh, so many delicious foods!

What really struck me though, were the long journeys each of us had taken — both geographically and metaphysically — that brought us all to the same place at the same time. One from Denver, one from Dallas, one from Thailand, one from Malaysia. For me, that was the true feast — an international feast of family and friendship.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

6 Responses to “A Feast of Friendship”

  1. Judy Galyon Says:

    I’m glad you were able to have such a good meal & kinship!!

  2. Joe Says:

    Sounds like a delicious experience, on many levels. I would love to get some cooking lessons from them!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s funny — I never thought to ask about getting cooking lessons, but it sounds like a fun idea.

      • Joe Says:

        Isn’t it though! I’m a big fan of learning stuff from folks who actually do/know/live the things I’m interested in, just like you’d want to learn a language from a native speaker vs from a book. Forgot to mention this custom reminds me of Día de Los Muertos, the Mexican feast of the Day of the Dead.

  3. Sam Sattler Says:

    What a nice custom to have. It reminds me of the Day of the Dead celebrations that are so popular in Mexico still. It is a moving experience to walk inside a Mexican / Hispanic cemetery in South Texas during the week of celebrations. Everything is so decorated and so colorful that you can’t but help feel joy in the air rather than any kind of somberness.

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