{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.

sympathy

 

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?

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30 Comments

  1. August 23, 2015 / 7:46 pm

    these are great suggestions on sympathy gifts, which i have never heard of before. at the end of the day, it really is most important to just be there for the person and for them to know that you are just a heartbeat away if they need someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on.

  2. Rebecca Swenor
    August 19, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    These are great sympathy gifts indeed. I love the basket of relaxation items and the journal with a pen is an awesome one too. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. August 18, 2015 / 10:28 pm

    I think the best gift is just to be there. Sometimes not doing or anything anything is the best gift. They just want someone to be there to listen to everything they have to say. Sometimes not even saying a word back to them is so therapeutic for them.

    • August 19, 2015 / 5:57 am

      I totally agree, being there sometimes is more than enough

  4. August 18, 2015 / 6:49 pm

    Oh I have never heard of this idea – it is a lovely way to show you care, at what is a terribly difficult time. Kaz

    • August 19, 2015 / 5:59 am

      Totally, it can be such a difficult time and sometimes a gift like a cooked meal or gift basket can go a long way

  5. August 18, 2015 / 12:38 pm

    What a nice idea. We actually had a death in the family last week, and the grocery store my daughter works for sent over a $100 gift card, a huge basket of groceries, and several cold cut platters for the funeral. It was so nice not to have to worry about those things. I’m sure a basket from a friend would be a welcome sympathy gift.

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:01 am

      I am sorry for your loss and sounds like the store were really thoughtful and gave something to help in such difficult times

  6. August 18, 2015 / 6:03 am

    I never thought to make a sympathy basket. I think it would depend on the situation on what I would want or think was right to give.

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:01 am

      I absolutely agree, you can never know in advance until the time comes

  7. August 18, 2015 / 4:39 am

    Gosh, I’ve never made a grieving sympathy basket before. Thanks for the ideas. I would be totally clueless. I know when we had a mom group merely loose her father, we all chipped in and made meals for a few weeks for her. I know anything to relieve some of the burdens of every day life could help as well, like yard work.

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:02 am

      I think we only know how much we can help or need help when we are in the situation but it’s always nice when everyone around pulls together for the greater good

  8. CourtneyLynne
    August 18, 2015 / 4:03 am

    Awwww sympathy gifts are some of the most thoughtful! I’m a total gift giver myself! I love trying to cheer others up 😉

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:05 am

      I suck at giving gifts but I do try when the occasion calls for it 🙂

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:06 am

      It is such a great thing to assistance one another whether in times of need or not

  9. August 18, 2015 / 2:31 am

    For me, I don’t care what a friend brings. It is just knowing that they are thinking of me and wanting to ease my pain 🙂

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:10 am

      I agree, being there really is enough for most but there those who could do with cooked meals, help cleaning etc

  10. August 17, 2015 / 11:27 pm

    I’m horrible at this but my wife is great at giving thoughtful gifts. I’ve definitely been trying to learn from her and we’ve done a few sympathy gifts together.

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:11 am

      I am not good with gifts either but I think as you go along you start to pick up a few things and sometimes its just a case of being there or getting something that would help you in that situation

  11. August 17, 2015 / 7:20 pm

    I’ve found that one of the best ways to help a friend in a time of need is just to be around. I don’t offer condolences, and I don’t say it will all be okay. Honestly, that’s not what anyone wants to hear. They just want to know you’re there when they need you.

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:13 am

      I agree, I never know what to say so I just stay by there side

  12. August 17, 2015 / 3:03 pm

    Giving a sympathy gift is such an incredibly thoughtful gesture. I feel like the best ones I received when my Dad passed away helped with daily activities, like food and cleaning.

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:13 am

      Sympathy gifts are definitely thoughtful gestures

  13. August 17, 2015 / 11:23 am

    Sympathy gifts are such a nice gesture. I think sometimes just knowing that someone is thinking about you can help you feel better.

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:14 am

      I agree its one way to show the grieving person you’re thinking of them

  14. August 17, 2015 / 10:33 am

    My father in law passed away last month and a lot of friends sent a sympathy gift to my MIL. I can’t tell you how comforting those gifts were.

    • August 19, 2015 / 6:16 am

      So sorry for your loss and nice to know the sympathy gifts were helpful

  15. August 17, 2015 / 7:16 am

    I totally agree as sometimes we all don’t know what to do! Thanks for highlighting another way that I can show my friend who has lost someone that I care with a sympathy gift!

    • August 17, 2015 / 7:20 am

      You’re most welcome, its never an easy thing but we can always try sometimes

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