Fake mourner attended up to four funerals a week to enjoy free food

‘Grim eater’ even filled containers with food to take home

A New Zealand funeral home has stepped in to stop a fake mourner who was attending up to four funerals a week to stock up on food, even filling containers and taking them home, according to media reports.

Harbour City Funeral Home director Danny Langstraat told local newspaper The Dominion Post that the “grim eater” appeared at up to four funerals a week in March and April to enjoy the finger food but clearly did not know the deceased.

The funeral company grew so concerned that it took a photograph of the man, thought to be in his 40s, and distributed the picture to its branches.

“Certainly he had a backpack with some containers so when people weren’t looking, he was stocking up,” Langstraat told the newspaper.

He said the man was “always very quiet and polite, and did as the rest of the mourners did in paying his respects”.

Langstraat said the man stopped coming after one staff member took him aside and told him he could come to funerals but could not take food home with him.

Funeral Directors Association president Tony Garing told the newspaper that such cases happened occasionally but it was difficult to stop people from coming or call their behavior theft because funerals were usually public events.

Not Sabatelle's, but the best I could find. image from Ralph's

I have had this post sitting in my draft folder, waiting for the proper time to post it. Creepy around the holidays, somehow inappropriate when someone I knew, even through casual acquaintances, has died. But someone did die, unexpectedly, and I never knew them, but I know someone close to them very well. They are a close family friend. The friend you call when you lock your keys inside your house, inside your car while it’s running, parked at a gas pump, multiple times a year. The friend you call to borrow their truck to pick up your new 1950’s bedroom set, grill, or bookshelf. The friend you call when you get arrested, get stuck in the snow, get your house broke into, have your basement flood over Thanksgiving Eve night. Yeah, that really happened. We still had one of the best dinners ever.

They are also the kind of friend you enjoy having a drink with more than most, who taught you to shoot your first gun, who you can trust with your life, and does a pretty bang up job at being all things to all people.

Some people give. Some people give more. And when they do, it seems unfair that they still have to lose someone close to them just like the rest of us. But they do.

When that time comes, and you have offered kind words and hugs, go out and purchase a meat tray. Not some rolled turkey and cubed-orange-cheese nightmare. A proper meat tray. Prosciutto should be invited to this platter. The highest quality you can find. And of course some great neighborhood bread. We are lucky to have a great little Italian store, Sabatelle’s, in a small town near my childhood house, which should be everyone’s standard when sending funeral food. If you console with sub-par food, you are giving sub-par love.  Even though Jim did not grow up with the sending-food-after-a-death custom, and thinks it’s weird, I think it’s required, and seems obvious to me. Most people don’t want to cook on a normal day. After losing a loved one, they aren’t even thinking about eating. There will be a ton of people in and out of their house, and those people need some food comfort. Plus they will eventually feel like eating, and you don’t want them eating jelly and old pickles from their fridge.

Do not stop at the meat tray. Meatballs, coffee, porketta, and of course booze are always welcomed. Think of doing this for the next couple of weeks, not just the funeral weekend. Grieving does not have a three-day limit. Watch their house, watch their pets, even their kids if that’s what is needed. Put gas in their car, get their mail, do their laundry. Small kindness is the kind I notice most, so that’s what my brain automatically tells me to do. So if your cousin dies, I might end up cleaning your car. Even if you’ve only met me once. Really, it’s not that strange.

So yes, even in the most terrible of times, food again can at least salvage, if not save the day.

And as I leave this less than happy post behind, I want to thank my mother for agreeing to never die. Ever. There are not enough meat trays in the world.

image from hotdawgtruck.com