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Lisa: What’s your favorite dish to make for others? For yourself? And why?
Emily: I love trying new dishes all of the time. But, if I were to make a favorite dish, it would one from my childhood that my mom made frequently. When I hear the sound of the noodles in sauce, see the packaging of her favorite ingredients, smell the aroma in the house, touch dish she always served the food in, and finally taste it, all of my favorite memories come rushing back. I don’t think I can say that I have one favorite but a few… being lasagna, spaghetti, and taffy apple salad.
Lisa: What would your advice be to someone who has issues and struggles around food – either over eating or under-eating, in regards to dealing with their grief and involving food (or not involving food)?
Emily: People handle their emotions differently. Some people like to eat their emotions and some people can’t look at food when they are emotional. I would suggest taking pride in your food. Preparing a recipe will make you enjoy the food more than just binging on something. On the other hand, you may be more willing to taste the food if you prepared it.
Lisa: What did you do for thanksgiving with your family? What made it different this year?
Emily: We went to my in-laws for thanksgiving. It’s so nice because my mother in law hosts my whole family. Thanksgiving was my mom’s favorite holiday. While we used to always have it at home and my mother would host, our holidays are still about the same things, just at a different location. It is still about family, what we are thankful for, and of course food!
Lisa: What other ways do you use creativity with the healing process?
Emily: I decided to work on the book as another way of showing my creativity and dealing with healing. Going through the process and having to express my emotions was very healing to me. I got to package everything that loved together. I began a new project that dealt with food, grief and expressing myself in hopes to help others. Another way that I use creativity is with our family foundation. We created a foundation in memory of my mother to raise money and awareness about breast cancer. I have chaired events and have had to come up with ways to get our mission across to others as well as raising money for breast cancer research. The foundation is called The Renee Israel Foundation and all money raised goes directly to the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Over the past 6 years, the foundation has donated over $500,000 to this cause.
Lisa: If you could take 1 moment with your mom and put it in a bottle you could re-live daily if you could, which memory would it be?
Emily: This is a fabulous question, yet so hard to come up with one. I don’t think it would be a big day, like a birthday, wedding or celebration. Instead, it would be just me and her laying on her bed and talking. If we weren’t in the kitchen, we were in her bed. I wish I could do this every day! She would scratch my back and be so motherly. We would talk about anything and everything!
Lisa: What advice do you have for someone who’s just lost their mom?
Emily: Give yourself time to heal. Six years later and I am just starting to feel like myself again. Grieving a loved one is something that you can’t prepare for. You don’t know how you are going to react. Some people don’t take time to grieve and just try and put it in a dark place. I would recommend finding something that reminds you of your loved one, but also something that you can put your own twist on. Also, communicating with others about your emotions is so important. Whether it be a sibling, friend, parent, animal, or journal, it is essential to your well being to let your thoughts and feelings out.
You can pick up your copy of Emily’s book, A Blending of Bittersweet Memories, here.
All donations can be sent to:
The Renee Israel Foundation
3100 W. Dundee Road, Suite 308
Northbrook, IL 60062