In this occasional series Lyndey Milan, Australian cooking and media personality, shares ‘Comfort Food for Grief’ – wholesome ideas for special foods to comfort you or those you love, during difficult emotional times.
When we met it was immediately clear there was a strong connection between our missions. Lyndey is passionate about food – and the way it brings people together – for the better. Margaret is passionate about providing comfort for those who are grieving.
How wonderful to be able to bring these two ideas together, wrapping grief in the practical support that food brings to this very human experience, which we all have to go through.
Lyndey Milan knows grief.
“Food speaks a language beyond words,” explains Lyndey Milan.
We all know those situations. Someone dear to us has just experienced something horrible – an unexpected death, or even the expected one. We want to show love. Yet every word we try to utter seems wrong – too small, too inadequate.
And that’s where the language of food comes in. Offering food is one of the most powerful ways we can reach someone.
“Home-cooked food comes from the heart. It’s an offering from the cook to whomever they cook it for and when someone is bereaved, this goes to a whole other level,” Lyndey says.
Home-cooked food comes from the heart.
That offering – whether a piping hot casserole or a light sponge cake speaks a thousand words, yet puts no pressure on the recipient to do anything other than receive, and be nourished by the thought.
“It’s a quiet word of condolence which can lead to as little or as much as the recipient is comfortable with saying.”
Lyndey has a bright sparkling personality. She is a natural beauty with a strong voice that tells you she’s both classy and down-to- earth at the same time. No wonder then, that she’s had an extraordinary television and media career, culminating in the last ten years as co-founder and Director of the successful TV production and distribution company Flame Media.
She has been a cook for more than 30 years, creating mouth-watering dishes for Australian classics such as The Women’s Weekly and Channel Nine.
But Lyndey’s successes have not protected her against loss.
In 2011 Lyndey’s son Blair died very shortly after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Only a few months before mother and son had travelled through Greece making a hugely popular Australian cooking television program, Lyndey and Blair’s Taste of Greece.
Then in 2021, Lyndey’s beloved partner, banker John Caldon, died of lung cancer – having never smoked. Such events can be crushing and they have had a big impact on Lyndey.
“I have been a cook since I was 16, yet when my son died, and even when I was caring for my partner with terminal cancer and after he died, I just didn’t have much interest in cooking. Remarkable.”
Because of her own experiences, Lyndey knows about others needs when they are grieving.
Yet it is so important the bereaved person or family eat properly.
“They may have been neglecting themselves if they were carers or simply overwhelmed with all that is going on. Many of us don’t know what to say when someone dies. So let the food speak for you. The recipient will feel it too.”
Three Level Shepherd’s Pie – the ideal Comfort Food for Grief.
For her first Comfort Food for Grief, Lyndey shares the recipe for Three Level Shepherd’s Pie, something you can put into a basket, knock on the door and leave behind. You can be clicking the gate shut as the door handle is turned.
“Comfort food for grief needs to be nourishing and nurturing, like a hug when your loved one is no longer there to give it to you.
“It needs to be simple and uncomplicated. Easy to heat up, easy to eat and easy to understand when so much else in life is so baffling,” Lyndey says.
To see Lyndey’s interview in Woman’s Day on June 22, go to:
Lyndey set up a fund in Blair’s name, which you can help support. To find out more about the Blair Milan Fund, go to:
Covid-19’s little griefs apply to life now too. See our following article about grief.