When someone you care about is experiencing a loss, it can be difficult to find the right words to express your condolences. It can feel like there’s an inability to fully sympathize with the person or to comprehend their experience. Additionally, there’s an underlying fear that we’ll say or do something wrong.
As such, many of us rely on gifts to show the person how much they mean to us and that we’ll support them during their time of need. Here are four meaningful condolence gifts for a grieving friend.
Flowers and Plants
Flowers and plants have long been a symbol of enduring life and love, be it platonic or otherwise. These living symbols of friendship and devotion have been a staple at funerals and as bereavement gifts for centuries.
Here are a few floral gifts you can share with someone experiencing a loss.
Sympathy arrangements are one of the simplest, yet most thoughtful gifts you can give. This gift also plays a functional role during the funeral by helping decorate the room and add beauty during a difficult time.
When it comes to choosing from the many sympathy flower arrangements available, consider the symbolic meaning behind the various flowers. White flowers are a safe choice for funerals, as they depict purity, peace, and innocence. Some common flowers to choose from include carnations, lilies, and roses.
Depending on the nature of your friendship, you may decide to send a small personal bouquet rather than something to be featured at the funeral. Either choice is acceptable – remember, it’s the thought that counts.
There are some people who don’t connect with cut flowers. If your friend is a plant lover, it can be more thoughtful to buy them a living indoor plant. Fortunately, there are some indoor plants that also tie into the grief symbolism, such as the orchid.
Sometimes, having a new plant to care for can be beneficial during the grieving process. It’s also a constant reminder of your friendship, lasting long after the cut flowers have wilted.
For a truly symbolic plant gift, you can get a memorial tree to plant in the deceased person’s honor. There are services that will send you a seedling with a plaque or tag that outlines the details of the person who has passed away.
Jewelry or Trinkets
Memorial gifts don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Getting a small token crafted for your friend allows them to carry a reminder with them wherever they go. Here are a few ideas for jewelry and trinkets to memorialize the deceased.
This gift requires special circumstances and cooperation to accomplish. However, if the person who passed away had been ill for some time, the family might have thought to record their fingerprints.
If you have access to their fingerprints, you can create a jewelry memento with their unique marking imprinted on metal. This gift works particularly well on pendants and keychains and can be customized to include their name, song lyrics, or a comforting phrase.
Another incredibly personal sympathy gift is to have the deceased’s handwriting turned into a piece of jewelry. It could be a copy from a greeting card telling your friend that they’re loved. It could be a sample from a quick note on the last day of the person’s life. Transform this sample into a necklace, bracelet, or charm for your friend.
Viewing old photographs can be a cathartic experience after someone dies. In our digital age, collecting and assembling photo gifts is easier than ever.
Here are a few ideas for creating a photo memento for your grieving friend.
Framed Photos and Collages
One of the simplest photo gifts you can provide is a framed image or collage. Choose a photo that resonates with your friend and have it professionally matted and framed.
Alternatively, you can have a custom frame made or engraved with a memorial message. This feature will make the gift that much more personal and thoughtful.
If you have access to a collection of photos, consider putting together a personal photo book. There are various apps and programs online to guide the process, and many of them can pull images directly from social media.
For a unique twist on a traditional photo book, create an heirloom photo project by including other elements. For example, you could create a photo recipe book by incorporating the deceased person’s favorite recipes. If the person who died was a writer or artist, you could include samples of their works with the images. Again, this project requires access and communication.
A Care Package
If you don’t feel comfortable putting together a more intimate bereavement gift, you can’t go wrong with a simple care package. When someone is grieving, it can be hard to take care of oneself. Giving the person what they need to practice self-care serves as a reminder that they matter and that you’re there for them.
Here are some key elements to include in a care package.
Food and Beverages
Incorporate some food and beverages into the care package. Try to include a few nourishing, healthy items to fuel the person in the initial days. It’s also nice to include some sweet treats and salty snacks as comfort food.
Depending on your relationship and whether it’s appropriate, you might include a bottle of wine. Alternatively, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are other thoughtful beverage options to include.
Give your friend something to help them de-stress and find comfort. This could include anything from a warm blanket to a selection of skin care products. You might include candles and bath bombs to remind the person to take some time and space for themselves.
There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. However, it’s nice to include a few basic resources to help the person process their loss. There are various poem books and memoirs that discuss grief. You can also include a journal for your friend to write down their thoughts and feelings as they navigate this difficult time.
When in doubt, keep your sympathy gift simple with a floral arrangement or a basic care package. If you are close with the individual, determine whether a more intimate gift is appropriate. Remember, it’s your time and support that is the true gift to your friend.