Sympathy gifts won’t take away someone’s pain, but they’re a heartfelt way to show how much you care. When someone in your life experiences the death of a loved one, you naturally want to show sympathy and love any way you can. Grieving the loss of a family member or friend is one of the most painful parts of life, but having a circle of support from others can help us through a time that feels unbearable.
We want to be there for anyone in our life experiencing a death in the family, particularly during a pandemic when people feel more isolated than ever. But because of the coronavirus, we may not be able to physically visit our friends or give them a big hug—which is heartbreaking. Sending a sympathy gift is a great way to show your love from a distance, but buying gifts to remember someone who has passed away can feel daunting. It can be tricky to strike the right tone with bereavement gifts, and you don’t want the present to feel trite or impersonal. Naturally, you want to choose a thoughtful, unique gift that symbolizes your empathy.
So we reached out to Dr. Nisha Gupta, assistant professor of psychology at the University of West Georgia, for professional advice on this sensitive topic. “It’s helpful to bring a little bit of beauty into the lives of the bereaved during a very painful time,” says Gupta. Beauty can come in the form of unique gifts, but it can also come in the form of more “traditional gifts like flowers or candles,” explains Gupta. When it comes to choosing the “right” gift she says, “I would trust your own instincts and capacity for empathy. Imagine a gift that would make you feel touched if you were in the shoes of the person who is mourning.”
Dr. Gupta also gave us some tips for writing a sympathy card. “Helpful messages might include memories of the person who has died that fill you with joy and nostalgia,” she explains. It also might mean simply “admitting that you can’t find the right words to relay the depths of your compassion.” Gupta also recommends avoiding platitudes like ‘time heals all things’ or ‘they are in a better place now.’
Below we pulled together some of the best sympathy gifts to show your love.
The lovely packaging makes this sympathy gift box a perfect way to send a little beauty to a grieving friend from afar. It includes a pretty succulent, a candle and an illustrated “sending loves and hugs” card. This gift set also comes with the option to write a personalized note to the recipient.
While food doesn’t fix things, it can be nourishing — something warm to fill you up and make you feel better as you grieve. Another thing to point out is that the person you’re gifting is grieving — they likely don’t have the mental capacity to cook for themselves or their families. Make their lives just a little bit easier with a comforting meal like soup. We tried Good Stock soups, and found the delivery service has a wide variety of healthy, delicious soups (like broccoli & cheddar, mushroom miso soup, carrot ginger soup, and more!). Choose 6, 9, or 12 of soups to get delivered. Prices start at $9 for a large pouch of soup.
“I think instead of giving intellectual books about grieving as a gift, I’d recommend books of poetry,” suggests Dr. Nisha Gupta. Grief help books can be very personal, and your friend may want to select the one that is right for them when they feel ready. But poetry is universal and about beauty and pain and how they can coexist.
Sending flowers might seem cliché, but there’s a simple reason why it’s such a popular sympathy gift: people love flowers. This arrangement is under the sympathy section of ProFlowers.com, because the vibrant colors are a beautiful way to remember a loved one who has passed away.
There’s been so much research about the psychological benefits of weighted blankets. Scientific research has shown that “pressure therapy” can help lower the heartrate and increase a feeling of calmness. Particularly during a pandemic people are lacking physical touch, and so a weighted blanket is a great gift to help ease anxiety. This particular version comes in multiple weight options and over 35 different color and pattern choices.
These caramels are as close as you’ll get to baking a warm caramel apple pie and gifting it to your friend who needs it. While chocolates and baked goods are also a great option, we love that these apple caramels are a bit more unique and thoughtful (if your friend doesn’t like apple pie, Southern Caramel has other flavors, like their best-selling salted caramel or coffee caramel), and there’s something so warm and comforting about a gooey made-from-scratch caramel.
When you’re hurting, it’s hard to take time to indulge in any luxuries. Just getting through the day is difficult enough. This “tea & sympathy” gift basket is filled with gourmet treats like shortbread, chai tea and sunflower honey that will feel extra comforting.
If you know your friend loves monogrammed or personalized gifts, this sympathy gift box is a great choice. It comes with a succulent, candle, personalized mug and a “thinking of you” card.
When people talk about lavender being a relaxing scent, there’s a reason. Lavender is the only known scent scientifically proven to be calming. Sleep can be so difficult during times of grief, and so this memory pillow with lavender sleep inserts makes an especially thoughtful gift.
The reason why we even send gifts to our grieving friends in the first place is because we want to comfort them. That is the sweet sentiment behind this vanilla and patchouli “comfort candle.”
Whether you’re a crystal connoisseur or not, giving a rose quartz crystal can be a loving way of saying “I’m here for you during your healing process.” Even beyond the potential benefits of rose quartz, it’s mainly the thought that counts.