To members of the food allergy community, food allergy deaths are never easy to swallow. It’s doubly hard when the victims are children. It goes against the natural order of things for parents to have to bury a child.
Every food allergy death becomes a time for self-reflection in the food allergy community. We scour the internet for news and details and use this to analyze our own routines, looking to see whether we’re vulnerable to the same fate.
And as long as we keep this largely to ourselves, it can be a positive exercise for food-allergic families. If we find similarities to our own lives, we can work to correct risky behaviors or oversights. For example, a family may see a food allergy death and start doing a better job of carrying epinephrine, reading labels, and/or advocating for themselves. (Acting self-righteous about what we do better, or judging/blaming the deceased’s surviving family members for poor choices, on the other hand, only breeds animosity. In fact, it comes across as heartless, particularly to the folks who have just suffered the worst possible consequence for an error in judgment. Best to keep those thoughts to ourselves.)
Elijah Silvera would have turned five years old today. His death following ingestion of a grilled cheese sandwich at preschool was more than a year ago, but it still strikes a chord for many food-allergic families because it goes against type.
After spending a lot of time reading food allergy news over the past few years, I’ve noticed that the vast majority of (publicized) food allergy deaths fit into three categories: