{Guest Post} The power of a sympathy gift

 When someone you care about loses a loved one, it can be very difficult to know how to help. On the one hand, you know that nothing you can do or say can really make the person’s grief any less severe but on the other hand you can’t simply sit idly by and do nothing. The best course of action depends on the grieving person him or herself and what s/he might appreciate most, but that’s not always easy to determine. Flowers are a popular choice, but for a more personal approach that can truly lift the spirits of a grieving person, if only for a little while.

When you send a sympathy gift basket, you have the option of customizing the gift to truly reflect the person to whom you are sending it. Does the person really love a certain type of junk food? Fill the basket with his favourite comfort foods. What if the recipient is a movie buff? Why not fill a basket with a couple of feel-good, laugh-out-loud flicks and some movie snacks? Or, since there are few more stressful times in a person’s life than when they lose someone they love, why not give them the gift of a few minutes of relaxation? Fill the basket with scented candles, some luxurious bath products, some calming music and some aromatherapy oils. Although the spa treatment won’t relieve the person of their grief, it will give them a few (very welcome) moments of relaxation.



If the person grieving is a child, consider including a plush stuffy or other comfort item, a pair of cozy pjs and a comforting/uplifting storybook to share with a loved one and perhaps a framed photo of the person they lost. For an older child, you might consider including a journal and a few pens – a place for them to record the feelings they may not be comfortable sharing out loud.

No matter what you actually put in the sympathy gift basket, the best sympathy gifts have certain guiding principles in mind. First, consider the recipient. What would they like to receive? What would brighten their day, even just a little, during this difficult time? Would they most appreciate some relaxation, some time alone, something to make them laugh, or simply some treat items that they wouldn’t normally buy for themselves? The important thing is to give them something that would help them in a way that is meaningful to them.

Sympathy gifts can be a tricky thing to give, because the recipient is no doubt in a precariously emotional state. He or she may cycle through stages of sadness, denial, anger and resentment, making it difficult to know how to meet their emotional needs. The best thing you can do is to give a gift with good intentions know that the person appreciates it, even if they don’t outwardly express gratitude in the moment. They are going through a very difficult time and may find it hard to express their feelings, but just trust that they do appreciate the gesture and when they do get around to enjoying the gift you gave them, they will think of you and appreciate your loving thoughtfulness.

It is never easy nor will it ever be but sometimes just being there or giving them something they would love is enough for that person.

What are some of the ways you’ve helped a friend during their time of need?

What would you personally want?