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Sympathy Gifts

5 Ideas for Gifting the Grieving


Updated December 13, 2010

Buying gifts for friends or loved ones who are grieving a loss can be a challenge.  Whether you are giving the gift immediately following a death or gifting someone for the holidays or their birthday, you want the gift to be meaningful and respectful of their grief.  Here are five gift ideas for you to consider any time of the year.

1. Scrap Books or Picture Books

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My grandmother died in November of 2010.  For Christmas that year I made my mom a picture book on shutterfly.com with pictures of my grandma and our family before she died.

If you have several pictures of the deceased you can make your own picture book online too.  If you are especially crafty, you can make your own scrapbook by hand.  These photo books make a meaningful gift any time of year.

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2. Framed Photograph

Photo © Personalizationmall.com

If you don't have enough pictures for a scrapbook or don't have the time to make one, you can put a special photograph in a frame.  Choose a frame that has meaning, such as a personalized engraved frame.  Before my grandmother died, I gave her a picture of my family in a snowman Christmas picture frame.  Since she died before Christmas, I gave the framed photograph to my mother.  Knowing that the picture was in grandma's apartment made it an even more meaningful gift to my mom.


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3. Sympathy Gift Basket

Photo © Harry & David

Who doesn't love to receive a gift basket?  It feels like Christmas morning when you sort through gift baskets and see all they contain.  When your greiving, a gift basket can lift your mood, even for a short time.  Many of us are emotional eaters and feel comforted and soothed when we snack on treats.  For this reason, it might be wise to choose baskets with an assortment of goodies, not just cookies, for example.  A basket filled with food, desserts, wine, books, and any number of special items mixed in can prevent future dietary regrets!

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4. Personal Services

Photo © Greg Paprocki/Getty Images

In the throes of grief, some things tend to fall by the wayside.  Things like cooking meals or cleaning the house can seem like burdensome tasks (if they weren't already).  Presenting a grieving person with the gift of prepared meals, house cleaning, or babysitting services can help alleviate some of the day to day stress and allow them to sit awhile with their grief. 

You don't have to offer these services yourself unless you really have extra time.  You can purchase housecleaning vouchers from local housekeeping services, find prepared meals at places like Dream Dinners or local grocery stores, and you could present a voucher for childcare from a reputable nanny service or childcare facility like Kidspark

5. Inpirational Poetry, Stories, or Books

Photo © Amazon.com

It might sound cliche but inspiration poems, stories, and books can bring a lot of comfort to a grieving person.  Why do you think so many of them exist?  There are all kinds of products with inspiration quotes, scripture, or sayings -- calendars, books, plaques, etc.  If you find something that inspires you, it's likely to inspire your grieving loved one. 

A friend of mine who recently lost her father told me that for a while after her loss, she felt really down until she received a calendar with the quote: "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." -- Marcel Proust.  My friend said that just reading that quote reminded her of the simple importance of being thankful.

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