July 21, 2020


A loved one has passed away and we would love to show our respects and give a sympathy gift. But it’s not always easy to choose the right thing, especially when you would rather not give flowers.

Friends and family often want to show their support and affection for those who are most affected by a loss. They feel as though a more personal gesture that provides some benefit to the family would be tangible and significant.

If you know somebody who has lost somebody close to them and you would like to offer something that will make their burden lighter then here are a few sympathy gift ideas:

Donations To Charity

It’s common to hear requests of donations to charities rather than for flowers when funeral notices are posted. That is a heartfelt gesture that empowers mourners to do something positive at a time when mourners are feeling deeply about somebody they have lost.

A Dish A Day

Instead of choosing flowers, food offerings are a long held tradition after a death in the family. It’s a logical and practical way to help out. When people are grieving their energy is depleted and food may be low on their list of priorities. Organising a roster among friends to deliver meals is really helpful. Providing a dish that requires little or no preparation is an equally great idea as long as there is room in the fridge and it isn’t something that needs to be eaten immediately.

Food Hamper

An alternative to a fresh dish is a package or hamper of non perishables. Snack items are a great idea, especially for children. It’s one less bit of preparation and one less thing to think about.


Anything that can relieve stress or tension can make all the difference. Escaping for a massage or a day spa may not be everybody’s idea of providing support during grief but that’s not to say it won’t help. People who are grieving tend not to allow themselves time for self-care. They think there is too much to do and the stages of grief are emotionally confusing. But if you know somebody really well and you can present the idea of self-care in a gentle yet persuasive way, it can be a much needed reprieve.

Personalised Sympathy Gift

There are lots of ideas that you might come up with that are very specific to the person who has died. They could extend to plants, jewellery, paintings, sculptures and other decorative items.

Gift Of Time

It may just be the gift of your time that is most appreciated. You may accompany them to the family owned funeral home if a visit is necessary. That can be a traumatic trip to take alone.

If the wife, husband, child or parent of somebody who has died would like to send thank you cards then maybe you can help to write them or address the envelopes. There may be addresses that need to be found. All of these efforts are important and appreciated.

Any kind of sympathy gift or thoughtful gesture doesn’t go unnoticed by those grieving and even though they may be too deep in sadness to show appreciation, they will definitely be grateful for you reaching out.

What would be your suggestion for a sympathy gift? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • I would definitely be sending meals my friends mother Inlaw passed so I cooked her and her family a baked chicken dinner that the husband even thanked me and said it was the best thing


  • If it is a parent of young children sometimes helping look after the kids so the remaining parent can have some alone time or helping with the cleaning so they can have family time.


  • Just being there for them when they need you to talk or just listen to them is the best Gift anyone can give or do


  • Food is good, I forgot to eat.


  • Food is always helpful but too much depending on the culture. I like to give a care box with candles and tea to help relax, certain books ie devotional or kids book on life cycle to help deal and maybe favorite biscuits or chocolate something personal they want/need/like and a hand written letter or note.


  • Food. I think food is always a great idea. When experiencing grief, the last thing you think about is food, and oftentimes if you have many guests/visitors, you don’t want to be concerned about them either. So I always take food. And extra food to put out if guests/visitors come. Or something more personal – I just gifted my dear friend a Moon Lamp as the moon had great meaning as her Dad passed. And for her Mum, a sleep roller as she had difficulty trying to sleep pre and post funeral.


  • When my father died a few of my Mum’s friends brought plates of food for our family. It was a lovely gesture and one that I remember fondly. It took the pressure off us having to deal with shopping and cooking.


  • When my late husband passed away my co-workers gave me a large pot with a climber to plant in it. I really appreciated it as my husband loved to garden. What I didn’t appreciate was my boss at the time asking me at the funeral when I was going to return to work.

    • How inconsiderate of your boss !


  • When my dad died, my workplace gave me a potted rose, the name of the rose was Joey, my dad’s name was Joe, I gave it to mum as I’m not very good with plants, it’s 16 years old now and still growing beautiful roses


  • I guess it also depends on where you live in comparison to the bereaved person and also the ages of you and the bereaved person. Sometimes all you can do is send flowers. Love your hints and think they will be very helpful for many. Thanks for your post


  • When we lost our first son fresh home cooked meals were so appreciated as neither of us wanted to cook and we ate so much junk food..


  • I really like your idea of a good hamper of snacks as it lasts so if they are not up to it this week or next they will have some treats for later or for those unexpected visitors.


  • A card and a small a pretty photo frame for a special and treasured photo.

    • Oops! should read and a small and pretty photo frame. A special photo can be placed in the frame. A special potted plant is always a legacy and special keepsake too.


  • These are great ideas. Gift of food hamper and a listening ear are good ones. I also like the idea of donating to a charity that is meaningful to the family.


  • Food hamper is great essencial thing to give.


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