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Tips on Choosing a Thoughtful Sympathy Gift

The grieving process can be as unique as a fingerprint. Each person brings to the trip their individual personality, their connection to the person who has passed away, their religious/spiritual beliefs, their feelings about death, and their life experiences. When it comes to choosing a thoughtful sympathy gift, one size doesn’t fit all.

Finding the perfect sympathy gift to express your deep concern and provide the recipient with a lasting gift that honors the memory of their loved one is not an easy task but it is not impossible either.

As you consider what might be an appropriate sympathy gift for your loved one, here are some things to consider:

1. What are your religious beliefs? If you are religious, take a few minutes to consider the customs and standards of your religion. Some religions have specific beliefs about giving gifts after the death of a loved one. If they are not religious, be sure to stay away from religious gifts that may offend them. Remember, this is a time to be supportive, not a time to push your own belief system.

Gift idea: I received a beautiful Angel with a candle that includes Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is My Light and Salvation. This angel sits by my bed reminding me that through the ups and downs of life I am not alone.

2. What are the circumstances? The cause of death and the importance of the relationship between your friend and the deceased are important factors to consider when choosing a sympathy gift.

gift idea: A friend who lost a pet might appreciate a stepping stone with the animal’s name on it to place in their yard. A mother grieving the loss of her child can receive a thoughtful journal and keepsake box personalized with the child’s name inscribed. Sending flowers and knowing how to listen to a husband whose wife has been murdered may be the best way to offer her support.

3. How old are you? A grandmother may want a different type of gift than a friend in her twenties.

gift idea: When my mother passed away, a good friend of mine gave me a Calvin & Hobbs comic book. Life was so heavy at the time that having something to make me laugh was just what I needed. She was 25 years old when she passed away and for me it was the perfect gift.

4. What is your gender? Gender plays a big role in the type of gift that is appropriate. A male friend can enjoy a round of golf with you much more than a candle or jewelry.

5. What do they enjoy? Try to find activities that bring them joy and help them reconnect with life. A relaxing day at a spa, a pleasant afternoon at a baseball game, or a good afternoon tea are just a few of the gifts you can share with your loved one.

gift idea: A few weeks after my mom passed away, my friends took me on a trip to Disneyland. What a wonderful gift this was to help bring joy back into my life.

6. Do you have any food allergies or restrictions? When choosing a food gift basket or bringing food to the family, be sure to check to see if they have any food allergies or are on a restrictive diet. You don’t want to buy a bottle of wine for someone who doesn’t drink. Or take peanut butter cookies to someone who is allergic to peanuts.

Gift idea: If you don’t have time to cook, Sympathy Food can provide a whole nutritious meal to a bereaved family.

7. Do you have photos at home or scrapbooks? If your friend likes to display memories in her home, a personalized photo frame or decorative scrapbook that she can keep memories in can be an appreciated gift.

8. What kind of book will come to them? If you choose a book, consider the grievance stage your friend is in. The first few months after a loss can be extremely difficult and it can be hard to focus. Books that are easy to digest and provide coping skills for people in similar situations may be best.

Gift idea: I received a very meaningful yet simple book after my mother passed away called “How to Survive the Loss of Love”.

9. Think outside the box. Gifts don’t need to be traditional; they can be as unique as your imagination.

Gift idea: When my friend Dan passed away, I couldn’t afford last-minute airfare to attend the funeral. A friend of mine paid for my ticket using his frequent flyer miles.

10 Offer your support. Some people don’t need or want trinkets, books, or movies; they just want a friend who is there with a listening ear, a hug, and a warm heart.

Buying a special gift basket, an inspirational book, a personalized picture frame, a memorial ornament, or sending flowers to a grieving loved one can brighten their day and lift their spirits during a difficult time.

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