GoFundMe is the Modern Casserole Brigade

I used to view people’s Go Fund Me pages without understanding. I thought they were only looking to fill a need when life caught them unprepared. While on one level that's certainly true, I only recently realized the deeper meaning.  Go Fund Me is the virtual casserole brigade, and it’s as much for the donors as for the recipients.

When I was young, when someone died, everyone made a casserole and brought it over, so that the family didn’t have to cook. I have never been the recipient of the casserole brigade, but I’ve real enough books and magazines to know that this is a common US tradition. 

When someone we love experience loss, we want to help. We feel powerless, and boiling up some noodles or baking a pie gives us something to express our love.

My sister lost her son this week, but she lives on the other side of the country. I can’t mail her a casserole. It’s true that she didn’t financially prepare for this eventuality, because what parent plans for their child to die unexpectedly? Very few. She had a need, and I had a computer, so I set up a Go Fund Me Page.  Donations came pouring in, along with little notes. That’s when I realized that this was as much for the donors as for my sister. We all felt helpless. We all wanted to send casseroles. Some donors were my nephew’s friends, some were family, and some were my personal friends who never met my sister. 

But there’s more. 

My mother’s family is Jewish. When a person dies, everyone drops a handful of dirt onto the casket, and then family members take up shovels and finish the job. Somehow, it always felt right to me—burying our own, not leaving others to do it for us. 

It’s the same reason we have pallbearers at funerals—we want to carry the weight for our beloved friend or family member one last time. 

What I learned was that being able to donate for funeral expenses, whether large amounts or small amounts--whatever the giver could spare--allowed each of us to throw in that handful of dirt. It allowed us to take the burden off the greiving mother’s shoulders and take it on our own. 

There’s power in that, and healing. An ownership of grief. 


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Copyright © 2024 Lara Lillibridge

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