Patients Share the Significance of Comfort Food at End-of-Life


When patients pass at Our Lady of Peace (OLP), they are remembered in on our hearts. Our medical and spiritual caregivers remember easing pain and providing comfort to patients and their families, and we remember the impact of small acts of kindness at end-of-life. That is what we’re called to do, and it’s how we live our mission. But over the years, we’ve realized that patients and families may not be aware that they also comfort us. 

Words of gratitude and kudos for quality care fuel us, warm our hearts and keep us going through difficult days and inevitable goodbyes. For OLP Food Service Director Rossana Ackerman and her staff in our hospice residence, comfort is not only found in the food they serve, but the thanks they receive in return. 

“The best complement my crew and I have received came from a patient named Kathy, who asked the nurse to talk with the person in charge of the kitchen,” Rossana recalls. “I went to her room, and she told me she had been in a lot of health care facilities lately, and today she felt like she was with her mom while eating the mashed potatoes and gravy we served her.” Rossana headed back to the kitchen to share the compliment with her crew. “We always prepare homemade mashed potato and gravy,” she explains. “It’s extra work, but it’s comforting to us to know they bring happiness to patients at the end-of-life, and it makes our staff realize the reason we’re here. This isn’t just a job for us.”  

Gratitude for comfort food is often expressed verbally, but patients have also sent hand-written notes to Rossana and her crew that are kept and cherished. We would like to share some of their messages with you:

Thank you for being willing to cook frozen salmon from home. It was a gift from someone in Alaska – Lisa

Your cooking is great. Thanks again for making my birthday so memorable – Jo

Thank you for preparing meals for the family of a departed patient – Judith

Thank you again for making the chili again that that reminds me of my grandma’s chili. It was delicious and a real treat! – Suzanne

I’ve always been a crazy kind of eater, and it’s always hard to feed me. I thank you for serving me what works for me. You made a great meal. Thank you for filling me up! 

Thank you for the delicious meals you prepare. The breakfast today exceeded every meal you’ve made with attention to detail. God bless you! – Karlene

The chili was very good! It reminded me of my recipe which came from my grandma thru my mom.

Just want you to know how much everything you do is appreciated – Nellie

May you find happy memories in comfort foods served this holiday season, and may they bring you joy!