The grieving process can be as unique as a fingerprint. Each person brings their individual personality, their connection with the person who died, their religious / spiritual beliefs, their feelings about death and their life experiences into the journey. 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 your loved one is not an easy task but not an impossible one.

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

1. What are their religious beliefs? If they are religious, take a few minutes to consider the customs and norms of their 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 might offend them. Remember, this is the time to be supportive, not the time to push your own belief system.

Gift idea: I received a beautiful angel with a candle which includes Psalm 27: 1 – The Lord is my light and salvation. This angel sits next to my bed and it occurs to me that through high and low lives I am not alone.

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

Gift idea: A friend who has lost a pet may appreciate a stepping stone with the pet’s name to place in their garden. A mother grieving the loss of her child can welcome a thoughtful diary and a personalized keepsake box with the child’s name engraved. Sending flowers and being a good listener to a husband whose wife has been killed can be the best way to offer your support.

3. What is their age? A grandmother might want a different kind of gift from a friend in her twenties.

Gift idea: When my mother died, a good friend of the mind gave me a Calvin & Hobbs comic. Life was so heavy at the time that having something that made me laugh was just what I needed. I was 25 when I died and for me it was the perfect gift.

4. What is their gender? Gender plays an important 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 a piece of jewelry.

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

Gift idea: A few weeks after my mother died, 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 they have food allergies or restrictions? When choosing a food gift basket or bringing food to the family, be sure to check 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: You don’t have time to cook, Sympathy Food can provide a full and nutritious meal for a grieving family.

7. Do they have pictures in the house or scrapbooks? If your friend likes to display the memories in their home, a personalized photo frame or decorative scrapbook in which they can keep the memories could be a welcome gift.

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

Gift idea: After my mother died, I received a very meaningful but simple book called “How to survive the loss of a love”.

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

Gift idea: When my friend Dan died, I couldn’t afford the last minute plane ticket to attend the funeral. A good friend 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 will be there with a listening ear, a hug and a warm heart.

Buying a special gift basket, inspirational book, custom frame, 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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