By Last Updated: March 7th, 2023

10 Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts or Gestures

A thoughtful sympathy gift can provide a measure of comfort to someone who is struggling with the loss of a loved one. The days and weeks following a loss can be an incredibly emotional and challenging time for everyone involved. Flowers are nice, but there are far more personal and meaningful options.  Many grieving family members get bombarded with flowers, making them feel overwhelmed. Some say they would prefer not to receive something that will die in a short amount of time. They are already immersed in grief over a loss. Instead, it’s best to contribute something useful, sincere, and personal to help ease their pain.

When you can’t find the right sympathy card with the words that feel appropriate or when you’re not able to be by your friend or relative’s side since you live somewhere else, here are 10 unique gift ideas for sympathy and thoughtful ways to provide comfort to someone who is grieving.

1. A Blanket With a Personalized Letter

If you’re looking for something  to send as a sympathy gift to someone who is grieving a spouse or significant other, taking one of their love letters and putting it on a blanket is one way to create a thoughtful memorial gift. If it’s for a relationship other than a spouse or significant other, you can also take photos and put them on a blanket or scan any other memento that might represent your loved one.

2. Plan a Celebration of Life Event

Funerals can be an incredibly somber experience. If your friend or relative wants to do something special for their loved one, think about helping them plan a celebration of life event that might be even as small as gathering people to go to the loved one’s favorite bar to watch their favorite football team on TV. Simply doing an activity that the loved one enjoyed can help keep their spirit alive and help support your friend or relative who is grieving.

3. Sympathy Ice Cream

Usually eating ice cream is associated with breakups, probably because the sweet satisfaction of spooning a scoop soothes the soul. So why can’t it be a thoughtful gift for someone who is grieving? The good news is that it can! Harry & David sells an assortment sympathy ice cream with messages of love on them. It’s a unique way to show someone you care and that you’re thinking of them.

3 ice cream cones as a sympathy gift nafter a loss

4. A Custom Sign in Their Loved One’s Handwriting

Someone’s handwriting can become so indicative of them. Whether it’s recipes, postcards, or birthday cards, a loved one’s handwriting can be of great comfort to people when they’re grieving, so another thoughtful gift is a custom sign in the loved one’s handwriting.

5. Plan and Plant a Memorial Garden

Provide a place of healing for those in mourning by creating a memorial garden. A memorial garden can be a public or private space where you plant flowers and other greenery to commemorate the loved one you lost. You can also even scatter the person’s ashes here if you’d like, provided you are mindful of federal and local regulations on ash scattering.

6. Create a Keepsake

Sometimes you can repurpose items from the loved one into something new. This is a great way to help people grieve without throwing away an important item. One thing you can do is take a loved one’s favorite item and engrave it with their name.

7. Sympathy Soup Baskets

While ice cream can be a soothing snack when you’re grieving, on the other hand of the spectrum (and thermometer) is soup. This sympathy soup care basket from Spoonful of Comfort can warm the hearts of those who are in mourning.

8. Sending a Hug Gift Box

When you can’t be there in person to support your friend, sending a hug in the form of this gift box can help. The box contains scented soaps and candles for your friend or relative who’s grieving to relax with.

9. Glass Keepsake Jar with Sympathy Messages

When you can’t find the words to say, express sympathy for your friend in the form of this Glass Keepsake Jar with inspirational messages to help those grieving find solace and acceptance. The jar contains 31 notes, and you can also choose the design.

a memorial lantern lit at night

10. A Memorial Lantern

Show them the flicker in their heart will never go out with this Memorial Lantern. In addition to a Celebration of Life inscription, it also contains the symbols of red cardinals, which signify our loved ones watching over us.

Before You Send Flowers…

In some cases, families will send an announcement stating exactly what they would prefer instead of flowers. Check the obituary first to see if they wrote something like, “In lieu of flowers, please donate to our favorite charity.” If you can’t find the obituary, try checking the funeral home website or calling the funeral home directly. They may have information regarding the family’s preferences. Do the detective work yourself before reaching out to the family directly. They will likely be consumed with funeral arrangements. If you make a donation on the deceased’s behalf, mail a card to the family with the details of the contribution. Here’s a helpful article from the Funeral Help Center for more information on funeral gifts and donations.

Thoughtful Gestures Make a World of Difference

While navigating someone else’s grief can be uncomfortable, it’s important to be there for your friend or relative in their time of need. Feeling uncomfortable for a bit is a small price to pay for letting your loved one know you care and that they are not alone. Death is an unfortunate aspect of life, and if you’re there for someone in their time of need, whether it’s through thoughtful gifts orby lending a listening ear, hopefully someone will be there for you, too, when you experience a death.

About Opal Cremation

Opal Cremation of Southern California knows that losing a loved one is an overwhelming experience. That’s why we make it our goal to help family and friends navigate one of the most difficult times you can go through in life. Specializing in cremation services, we offer an all-inclusive package that can be customized according to the needs of each family. We’re also happy to make arrangements for cremation over the phone with a dedicated care team to guide you through every step of the process. Our team is ready to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information, check out our support center where you’ll find cremation FAQs and other helpful resources.

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