When someone close to us experiences a loss, our typical reaction is sympathy - something that we can do to bring joy or compassion to their life when they need it most. Usually one gifts the bereaved a floral arrangement, which is a very thoughtful gift if that’s what you chose to give. However, there are also many other sympathetic things you can give to them.
We’ve compiled eight different, creative, thoughtful gifts you may want to consider when you need some ideas of what to give. It is also important to note that some families tell you what you can give ‘in lieu of flowers.’ Double-check the obituary, funeral home website, or call the funeral home to see if the family indicated what they would like.
1. Something for the Children
Usually, when inquiring about how a family is doing after a loss, one asks how the children are doing. While they are also grieving, they may feel forgotten as most of the attention befalls upon older family members. Let the little ones know you are thinking of them by buying something comforting and age-appropriate - whether it be a stuffed animal, coloring book, latest video game, or a new doll - they will feel touched that you thought of them.
You can also aid their parents in providing child care if they need it while they are attending to different family functions surrounding the death, or just to give them a needed break to collect their thoughts and relax.
2. Something to Eat
In the midst of grief, people often forget to take care of their own needs. They don’t have the time or the effort to put together meals, or even eat. Give them the
gift of food, whether it’s a meal, or a treat. If you are close by,
make them a home cooked meal and consider setting up a meal train for
them. If you are far away, you can always coordinate sending a fruit
basket, or other kind snack gift.
3. Something Generous
There has been a long tradition of gifting to charities or memorial funds that held a special place in the deceased’s heart. Consider making a monetary donation to a charity that recognizes the same values that your loved one held dear. Also double check in the obituary to see if any such funds had been mentioned.
4. Something Beautiful
If you are close to the family and know their style, you may want to consider a present of jewelry that will bring them comfort and remind them of their loved one. Many jewelry designers have thoughtful pendants or charms that may include a quote on strength or resilience that will help guide one through the process of grief, and bring a smile when they think of their loved one.
5. Something to Help
As previously mentioned, one who is struggling with the loss of someone close to them does not typically have the time to take care of themselves. They also may not have the energy to take care of their home. Why not reach out to local house cleaning companies to give your friend or family member housekeeping services. You can also look into landscaping companies to provide a gift of upkeep for their lawn.
6. Something 'Green'
If you are choosing not to give flowers there are still other ‘green’ options you can choose from. You could consider gifting a tree or shrub that would be planted in their loved ones memory. There are also companies that you can order special memorial stones that can be given to the family or placed in a special spot that was near and dear to them.
There are also foundations that will plant a tree in an area of desperate need of reforestation in memory of their loved one. You can even have an entire grove of trees planted!
7. Something Celestial
If the person who passed away was eclectic or had an interest in astronomy, a wonderfully thoughtful gift would be to have a star named after them. There are many companies that will do this, as well as providing a certificate that you can give to them.
8. Something Handmade
It is true that the most thoughtful gifts come from the heart. What better way to honor someone than to hand make a gift for the family. It can be something as simple as a letter reflecting upon the good times and memories you share. You can also compile a photo album of pictures they might not have seen.
If you want to get more creative, you could make a quilt out of old t-shirts, a warm blanket knitted from their favorite colors, or even a painting if you are artistically inclined. If you aren’t too crafty, you could even put together a gift basket of items that the family would appreciate.