Ideas for Sympathy Gifts

Posted: 15/10/2017

When a person dies, you may want to send your condolences to the family in the form of a gift. The go-to sympathy gift appears to be some flowers, but a family can become completely overwhelmed with receiving flowers in the light of a death that they simply do not know what to do with them all. Whilst flowers are lovely, there are other options to consider that may be a little more personal and refreshing for the family receiving the gift. Furthermore, some people and some cultures are not fond of flowers in the context of a funeral, as they also die.

Check for an “in lieu of flower”

Some families tend to set out the things they would prefer instead of flowers. This makes it easy for you as you can just check the obituary or funeral home website, or ring up the funeral home to ask if the family has left an “in lieu of flowers” list of suggestions.

If not, we have you covered with some alternative ideas to simply sending or bringing over some flowers. All of the gift ideas mentioned in the article are, we feel, very personal, different and thoughtful. So take a look to see if there is anything that you think would work as a gift for a family after the death of a loved one.

Name a star


Something which is extremely thoughtful is to “buy” a star and name it after the person who has passed away. The way it works is that a company such as star-registration names a visible star on your behalf and sends you a certificate on high-quality premium paper which will be laminated, providing the details. They will also receive an individual star chart which is prepared just for them. The star chart is designed to enable the family to be able to spot the star which has the name of their loved one on it.

Photos that the family does not have

This is perfect if you are a member of the extended family. If you have photos which the immediate family may not have, consider putting them together in a small photo album or CD. If you only have one or two, consider purchasing a nice frame and putting the best one inside.  The immediate family are sure to be grateful for having as many pictures of the deceased as possible.

A gift of self-care


In times of death and grief, often the people it affects the most forget to take some time to look after themselves. You could get someone a gift card for a massage, a manicure, a facial and so on – this kind of escapism is needed at times like this. Alternatively, you could put together a self-care basket full of things such as shower and bathing items, new pyjamas, a candle, some slippers, etc. This sort of gesture may help them to take the time they need for themselves and is bound to be highly appreciated.

Create a memorial guestbook

You can put together a guest book of all the members of the community that wish to sign their names and favourite memories with that person, as well as a special message to the family. You can get ones that are personalised or you could make one from scratch. This is a particularly nice Idea as the actual funeral service can usually be a bit of a blur for the family, so having this to look back on once everything has calmed down can be an amazing gift to give.

Similarly, you could comprise a book full of letters. This is commonly done when a young child has lost a parent so that the friends and other family members of that person can express how much the parent of the child meant to them and why they were so great. When a child is old enough, they can look back at these letters to learn about their parent who has unfortunately passed away.

This book of letters also works well for parents of an adult child that has passed away young. Having that insight into your child’s life you’re their friends perspective can be extremely comforting.

Either of these gestures is something that will be treasured always in the family, so a little effort from your end can really make a family happy in a time of mass grief.

House Cleaning

A different, yet brilliant, idea is to pay for a house cleaning for the family who are grieving. Given it is not your traditional gift, when someone has died or is extremely ill, housework gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list.

It is the case that immediately following the death of a friend or family member, that people will visit the home of the family of the deceased. Of course, the family will not want their home looking a mess for when people come over to offer their condolences, so cleaning their house is an extra stress that they do not need.

You could purchase a gift card for a cleaning service to come to their home and give it a deep clean to relieve the family of the stress of doing it themselves and provide them with a clean environment to live in.

Something for the children


In times of death, children are rarely considered unless it was their parent or sibling who had passed. Gifts are often specific to adults, even when the gift is addressed to the whole family, and children can often feel left behind. Any small gift can remind them that they are being thought about at this time.

Depending on the age and the interests of the children, things like a cuddly toy to cuddle for comfort, a diary to express their feelings in, a book or games to keep their mind occupied in an overwhelming time. The parents of the child will probably really appreciate this gesture too, as you have made their child feel special and their feelings have been recognised.

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