The death of a loved one is a terrible sorrow, and witnessing that sorrow in another is one of the most helpless feelings you’ll ever know. You instinctively want to soothe, rescue, heal … but in the end, there is little you can do. Nothing and no one can take away the pain of grief.
You Are the Gift
When your friend is hurting, it’s your presence that matters – a reminder that you are there to support and lend strength during this most difficult time. You may never fully know how some thoughtfulness on your part sustained your loved one through grief’s darkest hours, but a kind word or simple gesture of consolation can make all the difference in the world.
Of course, you can’t be at your friend’s side 24/7, but there are other ways to remain “present.” A carefully chosen sympathy gift can remind your friend of your support even when you can’t be there in person.
A Gift that Says You Care
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a sympathy gift; some of the best gifts are simple keepsakes and gifts of service. If you’re not sure what kind of gift would be right for your loved one, consider one of the following.
Keepsake Gifts – A keepsake gift is a touchstone, a tangible reminder of your love and concern. Personalized photo frames, treasure boxes, and figurines are some examples of keepsake gifts. A tear bottle is a unique keepsake gift that dates back to ancient Rome, when mourners filled small glass vials with tears and placed them in the tomb as symbols of love and respect for the deceased.
- Inspirational Gifts – An inspirational gift is a gift to the soul – words or images intended to comfort and encourage a grieving heart. Plaques inscribed with words of hope and faith, spiritual or self-help books, and audio recordings designed to aid in relaxation, meditation, or grief recovery are some examples of inspirational gifts. Keep in mind, though, that unless you are certain of your friend’s religious views, it’s best to avoid overtly religious gifts.
- Food Gifts – Gifts of food can provide comfort and sustenance to your friend, especially in the early days and weeks immediately following her loss. Homemade soups and casseroles that can be frozen and reheated as needed will not only nourish your friend but also relieve him of the need to cook when his energy may be very low. Focus primarily on healthy foods, but remember that a little dark chocolate is good for the heart and soul, too.
- Floral Gifts – Floral gifts are a time-honored tradition. In most cultures, gifts of flowers and plants are appropriate for conveying condolences at a funeral, and in the weeks and months following, a cheerful bouquet can help to brighten your friend’s day.
- Gifts of Service – Among the best sympathy gifts you can give are your time and energy. Gifts of service include everything from helping with household chores and running errands to addressing thank-your cards to funeral guests. You can also purchase gift certificates for a massage, hairstyling, or other services that can give your friend a lift.
Do you have memories of unique or special sympathy gifts you’ve given or received? Please share your thoughts to help others.