I just attended a beautiful memorial service for my friend Sue yesterday so I decided that I would veer away from my usual writing and write about thoughtful sympathy gift ideas.
Before I left for the funeral, I saw a segment on the Today Show about some horrible floral arrangements that 1-800 Flowers sent for Valentine’s Day. They were a waste of money for some people. The recipients didn’t receive what was ordered. The pictures they showed were pitiful.
This reminded me of how many times I have been disappointed when I walked into a funeral parlor and saw the $100 floral arrangement that I ordered looking small and sparse.
I have since made a pact to myself NOT to send flowers unless it’s in my home town and I can use a florist that I like and trust. If you don’t have one, scout out a florist in your home area. Make sure their design skills and quality meet your expectations.
If I am going to send flowers, I much rather send an arrangement to my friend’s home so that the family can enjoy it there. There will be plenty of other flowers at the funeral home.
I have a local florist that does amazing work. I know that what she delivers will be top-notch. If you need a florist in Columbus, Ohio, Regina of Natural Designs is amazing. Here’s a sample of her work.
Alternative Sympathy Gifts Beyond Funeral Flowers
Over the years I have started to look for alternative sympathy gifts in memory of a friend’s loved one. Some ideas I have come up with on my own; others I have borrowed having been the recipient of some unique and thoughtful sympathy gifts when I have lost a family member. The level of gift depends on your relationship but here are some unique and thoughtful suggestions.
My sister has made arrangements to have a local deli deliver sandwich trays to the funeral parlor for the grieving family to have in between the calling hours. Very thoughtful gift!
Flowering Bushes and Trees
When my aunt (who lives in another city) lost her mother, I googled her address on Google maps and clicked on the tab “find nearby businesses”. I found a nursery that was less than a mile away, called the owner and asked if I ordered a flowering bush, would he deliver it to my aunt’s house for a reasonable fee.
Instead of sending flowers, I wanted to send her knockout roses that would bloom year after year. Her mother was a beautiful lady and this would be a wonderful reminder every time it bloomed. The owner was happy to help.
Locally, I have gone to nurseries myself and have given beautiful pink hydrangea bushes when friend’s moms have died and blue hydrangeas when their dad’s have died.
If a death occurs during the winter, you can give a gift certificate to a nursery or give them a card saying you’ll bring a plant as soon as planting season arrives.
I have been a recipient of receiving plants as a sympathy gift and have been so touched. When my grandmother passed away a couple of years ago, I came home to a beautiful pink rhododendron sitting on my porch from some dear friends.
The girls in my husband’s office not only gave me a beautiful blooming tree but one of the gals came with her husband to plant it for me. These are such thoughtful gifts that keep on giving, year after year.
It wasn’t easy finding one that I liked. I finally found this metal one on Houzz. With it’s spring-like base, it will sway in the wind. If you are not familiar with Houzz, it’s a great decorating app which I wrote about in this previous post. They also have a product search button which is how I found this angel statue.
When my brother passed away, my cousin sent me a beautiful frame and a touching note telling me to frame a favorite picture of Bob to enjoy for years to come. This was such a thoughtful gift.
If your friend is out-of-town, you can order a frame on-line and have it sent directly to the recipient such as this frame from Crate and Barrel.
Gift of Jewelry
A dear friend and her mother gave me a beautiful bracelet with my grandmother’s birthstone in it. So so thoughtful!
You can also give a gift with a monogram or inscription to remember a loved one.
After returning from my brother’s funeral, my dear friend Jonathan brought a delicious dinner for my family. It was so kind and thoughtful as I was so exhausted.
I did have an “aha” moment that night. When he went to turn on the oven, he decided to use the “convection” option since he was placing trays on several racks. I didn’t even know I had a convection oven! We had only moved into the house six months prior and I never had the chance to pay attention to my oven’s capabilities.
Recently my friend Jane lost her best friend to cancer. I offered to take her 8-year-old daughter for the day of the funeral. I knew that it had to be difficult for Marina to see her mom in tears all week and that I needed to make the day special for her to keep her mind off of it. I created a menu that Marina could select from. I’m not sure who had more fun! It was a delightful day.
Donations Also Make Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts
Of course another wonderful gift to give are donations to the charity of choice by the family. If the family hasn’t designated a charity, you can pick one that would resonate with them.
Specific local hospice that cared for their loved one
Local Animal Shelter for an animal lover
St. Jude’s for loss of a child
Donation to your Alma Mater for a college friend
These are just some options for thoughtful sympathy gifts for grieving friends. Is there anything you do for friends in mourning that you can share in the comments below? I would love to hear what others do.
R.I.P. Sue. You will be missed dearly.