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Sympathy Gift Ideas

Updated on March 7, 2014

Gift Ideas For Expressing Your Heartfelt Condolences

What can you do when someone has lost a loved one? You want to send over something, but you dread being inappropriate. What can best express your condolences and support the grieving person? That’s going to depend on how well you know the bereaved.

Here are 6 ideas for expressing your heartfelt condolences and to let the person know that you are thinking about them during this difficult time.

Memorial Jewelry

If the gift is for an immediate family member, it may be appropriate to give a piece of memorial jewelry. A cross or a necklace specifically made with a remembrance poem or saying will be a comfort at a time of sorrow. If it’s for someone you know very well, it’s appropriate to have it engraved with a sentiment from your heart such as, “We will all miss dad and are here for you.”



If you don’t know the bereaved very well, flowers are always appropriate. Don’t bring flowers over to their house as they are in a private time of mourning and may not want to receive any visitors. And don’t bring any floral arrangements to the funeral or wake. Always have the arrangement delivered by a professional florist. They can best advise you when to send them and often work with the funeral homes to coordinate flower drop offs at hours that work for everyone. Be sure to tell the florist what your relationship is to the deceased. They can make special arrangements for sisters, grandchildren and other relatives that say “Beloved grandmother” or “Cherished Aunt.” Ask other members of the family if they are sending flowers and if they’d like to get together with you to get a bigger arrangement. Often, you can get twice the arrangement for just a little more money. Make sure everyone’s name is on the card.

Gourmet Food Basket with Custom Imprinted Ribbon Expressing Your Condolences
Gourmet Food Basket with Custom Imprinted Ribbon Expressing Your Condolences | Source


Food is another gift you can give. Just be mindful that others will also have the same idea. You don’t want to bombard the grieving widow with three lasagnas. Make sure whatever you bring can be frozen in case she receives an overload of food.

Your gift can also be a food basket. Try not to send over anything that has to be eaten right away such as fruit or other perishables. By the time she has a chance to look in detail at your basket, everything may have spoiled. So use good judgment and send packaged items that are shelf stable so she can store them away for later.

You can also shop online and have a meal sent over by companies like


Personalized Keepsake

It’s also appropriate to send a personalized item such as a garden stone with the person’s name on it. The recipient can place it in their garden. There are many companies online that will help you order the perfect item. You can also send personalized angels or other statues that bear kind and sympathetic sayings. If you’re not sure of the recipient’s religion, avoid sending anything that mentions “where they’ve gone to” or “heaven.” Especially if you aren’t sure of the deceased person’s beliefs, this could upset the recipient. Try to stay with an inspirational saying that will uplift and not be controversial.

If the person was a big football fan or a beach lover, consider buying them a personalized brick at the football stadium or having a stone for the beach wall engraved with their name and date of passing. The more the gift is tailored to the deceased interests, the more the gift will be appreciated.

Baked Goods

Whether you bake them yourself or buy them online, baked goods are comfort food that can feed a crowd of people. Online you can find sympathy cookie bouquets like the one shown to the right, boxes or brownies with a thinking of you gift message, and mixed trays featuring many items like baklava, biscotti, and more.

If you love to bake, you could consider making your own tin of brownies or box of cookies to deliver to the grieving family. Be sure to include a handwritten card that expresses your heartfelt condolences.


Plant or Tree

One final idea is to send a small potted tree that can be planted later in the deceased person’s honor. As the tree grows, it will comfort the bereaved. If it’s a fruit-bearing tree, it may offer a bright hope for tomorrow as well when it blooms.

When selecting the tree variety, be sure to select something with longevity. Don't choose a short-lived tree, but rather one that will live for a long time. Oaks, maples, southern magnolias, and cedars live a long time and are pretty disease resistant.

Ways To Express Sympathy from the Comfort Company

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  • vespawoolf profile image

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    I've often given flowers or food to the bereaved, but would never have thought to give a keepsake such as a tree or necklace. Very good ideas. Thank you!

  • Nicole S profile image

    Nicole S Hanson 5 years ago from Minnesota

    Beautiful ideas here! It's always tough to know what to do when someone has lost a loved one.

  • jeanihess profile image

    jeanihess 5 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

    Really lovely ideas for such a sensitive time:)

  • Pinkchic18 profile image

    Sarah Carlsley 5 years ago from Minnesota

    So many great ideas here. I never knew they made memorial jewelry before but that is a very sweet notion. Baked goods always seem to be welcome I've noticed. It lets them know you care, and it gives them a little something to snack on or share with guests later. Great hub!