Sympathy Gift Ideas: Going Beyond Flowers

Bereavement

Posted on March 17, 2015 by Cindy Phan

A sympathy gift is a way to communicate with grieving families or individuals that their grief is valid, you are thinking of them, and you care for them. Often times, flowers are sent to a family or funeral, however there are many other gifts you can send that may be more appropriate, personal, or useful.

For example, if the deceased is Jewish, flowers are often not appropriate, but you can show your support via a donation to a charity of their choice in honor of the deceased (the family often specifies one), or send gifts for a Shiva call. So what other sympathy gifts can you send to the grieving?

Thanks to modern technology, you can now order  sympathy meals online and send it to grieving families and individuals. You can also send sympathy gift baskets, self-care gift certificates, and even make donations or dedications in memory of the deceased and honor the deceased and the family’s grief. Below are some recommendations of some sympathy gifts & companies who fulfill them:

Sympathy Meals

In the whirlwind of funeral planning and coming to terms with complicated emotions, often times grieving family members may not have time to prepare themselves the healthy and wonderful meals they need and deserve. Nowadays, the internet provides us with an alternative to food preparation.

MealGifts.com is one example of a company that provides gourmet meals at affordable costs, as well as MagicKitchen.com. On MealGifts.com, you order the meals, pay, and then choose a suitable delivery date for the recipient. MealGifts.com then packages the refrigerated meals in a styrofoam cooler with dry ice, and ships it to the location via FedEx. If the recipient cannot be there to pick it up, the sympathy gift will be left at their door. Either way they will receive the gourmet meals and you will help relieve the stress of food preparation on top of all that complicated planning and organization that comes before and after a funeral. Sending sympathy meals could also help when the grieving family is having relatives over at their home for the funeral, providing them with an option to cater to the visiting relatives.

Sympathy Gift Baskets

Sometimes, the most random little pieces of sentiments can make grieving families and individuals feel a little better. Websites such as GiftTree.com, 1-800-Baskets.com and PittmanandDavis.com offer gift baskets which you can order and send directly to a household. Perhaps after the frenzy of funeral preparations and tough decisions handling post-mortem affairs of the deceased, the grieving family/individual would appreciate some time to unwind and enjoy a bottle of wine, or take a nice and relaxing spa bath to forget all the negative feelings for just a little while. There are a plethora of companies offering services that range from gift baskets of wine, chocolates, fruit gift baskets, to stress-relieving spa materials. Would you prefer something more nuanced? If the bereaved happens to be Jewish, there are even Jewish-friendly gifts with sites like Challah Connection.

Self-care Gifts

In helping grieving family members care for themselves, you could send them self-care gifts, which act as a nice gesture reminding the grief-stricken that they deserve care, too, and that within their grief they are allowed to take a deep breath and be ‘okay’ for a little while. You could send them gift certificates for a massage, manicure, private yoga class, or self-care baskets such as bath items or a collection of books to get their mind off burdening thoughts and worries.

House Cleaning & Lawn Care Gifts

All the while, amidst busy funeral preparations, perhaps the grieving family/individual do not have time to take care of their home. Gift certificates to house cleaning or lawn care services may be very useful and highly appreciated by these grief-stricken individuals.

Donations and Dedications

Another way you can show a grieving family or individual that you care about them and acknowledge their grief is to set up a dedication or donation to a fund. For instance, if the deceased was closely associated with an institution, you can make a donation to that institution and dedicate it to them. If the deceased cares deeply for certain causes, you can make a donation to that cause in their memory. Often times, the family will mention a preferred charity or institution in the death notice or obituary, so be sure to check that if you’re unsure which organization to make a donation to.

Another alternative is from TreeGivers.com, which allow you to donate money to plant a tree in the memory of the deceased.

It may seem difficult to pick the perfect gift to express your sympathies, but the most important thing to remember is that just acknowledging their loss and letting them know that you are thinking of them are often recognition enough—they will appreciate whatever you send and the sentiments that come along with it.