8 Comforting Sympathy Gift Ideas June 9, 2021

sympathy gift ideas - box with red bow

When someone close to you loses a loved one, it can be difficult to find the right words to express your support. Sympathy gift baskets, flowers, favors, and handwritten notes can all provide a sense of comfort and relief during a difficult time in someone’s life. You may not be able to take away the grief and pain they feel, but you can certainly show your care and condolences in a number of ways. 

How to Express Sympathy

First, remember that your words are meaningful. Even if the person who is recently bereaved is too hurt to respond, showing that they are in your thoughts can still provide some comfort. Second, consider how close you are to the bereaved. If you are a close friend or family member who sees them on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to make contact as soon as possible. If you are a casual friend or acquaintance, it might be more appropriate to send your condolences at or a few days after the funeral. 

Avoid comparing your feelings with theirs or attempting to be overly upbeat to drown out their sorrow. Grief is a natural emotion, and to provide support, it is important that you give the person grieving space to express their feelings. Remember to keep the focus on them during this time. It is also recommended to avoid offering condolences on social media or other public platforms. Unless the bereaved has already used these platforms to express their feelings, opt for a phone call, a letter, or something more private. 

What is a good sympathy gift?

There are several options for a kind and heartfelt sympathy gift. If you know other friends or family members who are sending gifts, consider asking them about their plans so you do not send the same gift twice. Even if someone loves chocolate chip cookies, 50 baskets of them might not be ideal. Deeply personal gifts like photographs or letters are a great choice as they are sure to be unique and meaningful. 

Sympathy gift baskets

Sympathy gift baskets can be a foolproof choice for those who you do not know intimately or see often. Since you can include several things in a basket, it is easier to strike a balance between personal and respectful. Perhaps you can select the bereaved person’s favorite cookies, a nice mug, and a kind card. Fresh or dried fruit, soups, or other comfort food items can be a great addition to a sympathy gift basket as well. Depending on the age of the person you are sending the basket to, you can also include toys, teddy bears, or small picture books as gifts. 

Sympathy flowers

Flowers are a common sympathy gift to send after a funeral. For some, flowers can brighten up a room and lift spirits. For others, though, flowers can be outside of their cultural norms, or seen as another thing to care for during a difficult and likely busy time. Be sure to review any funeral invites or obituaries in case someone has written “in lieu of flowers…” in the notes. 

If flowers are a good option for the bereaved person in your mind, there are many beautiful floral arrangements you can choose from. White lilies, carnations, and chrysanthemums are among the most popular choices for sympathy flowers, but roses and orchids are also excellent options. Our funeral flower arrangement guide can be a great resource for selecting flowers that convey your message beautifully and arrangements that suit the recipient best. 

Acts of service as a sympathy gift

If you are close with the person who is grieving, acts of service rather than material sympathy gifts can be a great choice. When someone is grieving, it can be difficult to accomplish everyday tasks. Simple things like preparing meals, tidying the home, or mowing the lawn can lift a major burden from the person who is grieving’s shoulders. 

However, it is important to communicate with the person and respect their boundaries. Be sure to ask before completing any acts of service, and give them the chance to specify something that would be most useful. “What do you need right now?” can be wonderful to hear during a time when life feels overwhelming. 

If you do not feel it is appropriate or possible to complete an act of service yourself, sympathy gift cards are a good alternative. If the bereaved person might find it useful, consider sending a gift card for a home cleaning service, lawn care, or even personal care like a spa or massage package. This way, the person can use the gift card whenever they are ready. 

Charitable donations

If the deceased or the bereaved person held a special cause or charity dear to their heart, a receipt of donation can be a meaningful sympathy gift. This touching gesture lets the bereaved know that you care and you are thinking of them during this time. Many people will specify a charity or cause to donate to in their obituary or funeral invitation rather than receiving flowers or sympathy gifts. 

Photo albums/memory boxes

If you have special photos or memories of the person who passed away, offer to share them with those who are grieving. You may want to write down a personal story or create a photo album the bereaved can treasure. If the deceased person made an impact on your life, let their loved ones know. Sharing your personal experiences can help preserve their memory and create a fuller picture of the deceased person’s life. This deeply personal sympathy gift is sure to be unique and irreplaceable. 

Sympathy cards or letters

No matter what you choose to give to the bereaved person, you will likely want to include a personalized card or letter with your sympathy gift. In some cases, a card alone may be appropriate. While there is nothing wrong with typing your condolences, a handwritten note can help the message feel more personal. 

What to write in a sympathy card

Sympathy messages are not easy to write, but there are a few simple rules to follow to make things easier. First, start with your sincere condolences. Let the person know that you acknowledge their feelings. Messages like “Please know that we are thinking of you and your family during this time of sorrow,” or “Thinking of you at this difficult time,” convey this sentiment well. 

Many people stop here, and that is okay. Even a short and simple message lets the grieving person know they are on your mind. However, if you can share a personal message or remarkable quality of the deceased, it can be nice to add that next. And finally, if you can and want to offer support, that can be a great way to close your statement. 

What not to write

Avoid giving advice like “be brave” or “be strong.” These messages are common, but not necessarily the most helpful during a time of loss. Also, avoid talking about the afterlife, as the bereaved family’s belief system may be different from yours, or they may simply not want to think about that at this time. Finally, it is not advisable to share a personal story with grief. This time is for them; recounting your own loss only shifts the focus rather than showing support. 

We hope this guide to sending funeral flower arrangements has helped you. Remember, that at the end of the day, it’s about conveying what’s in your heart and respecting the family’s wishes. Please feel free to contact our funeral home to work with our professional staff on any of our services.