The grieving process can be as unique as a fingerprint. Each person brings to the journey their individual personality, their connection to the person who died, their religious/spiritual beliefs, their feelings about death, and their life experiences. When it comes to choosing a thoughtful sympathy gift, one size does not fit all.

Finding the perfect sympathy gift to express your deep concern and provide the recipient with a lasting gift that honors the memory of their loved one is not an easy task, but it is not impossible either.

As you consider what might be an appropriate sympathy gift for your loved one, here are a few things to consider:

one. What are your religious beliefs? If they are religious, take a few minutes to consider the customs and norms of their religion. Some religions have specific beliefs about giving gifts after the death of a loved one. If they are not religious, be sure to stay away from religious gifts that may offend them. Remember, this is a time to be supportive, not a time to push your own belief system.

gift ideas: I received a beautiful Angel with a candle that includes Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is My Light and Salvation. This angel sits by my bedside and reminds me that through life’s ups and downs I am not alone.

two. What are the circumstances? The cause of death and the importance of the relationship between your friend and the deceased are important factors to consider when choosing a sympathy gift.

gift idea: A friend who lost a pet might appreciate a stepping stone with the animal’s name on it to place in their yard. A mother grieving the loss of her child can receive a thoughtful journal and personalized keepsake box inscribed with the child’s name. Sending flowers and listening to a husband whose wife has been murdered may be the best way to offer her support.

3. How old are you? A grandmother may want a different kind of gift than a friend in her twenties.

gift idea: When my mother passed away, a good friend of mine gave me a Calvin & Hobbs comic book. Life was so heavy at the time that having something to make me laugh was just what I needed. She was 25 years old when she passed away and for me it was the perfect gift.

Four. What is your gender? Gender plays an important role in the type of gift that is appropriate. A male friend can enjoy a round of golf with you much more than a candle or jewelry.

5. What do you enjoy? Try to find activities that bring them joy and help them reconnect with life. A relaxing day at a spa, a nice afternoon at a baseball game, or a nice afternoon tea are just a few of the gifts you can share with your loved one.

gift idea: A few weeks after my mom passed away, my friends took me on a trip to Disneyland. What a wonderful gift this was to help bring joy back into my life.

6. Do you have any food allergies or restrictions? When choosing a food gift basket or bringing food to the family, be sure to check for food allergies or on a restrictive diet. You don’t want to buy a bottle of wine for someone who doesn’t drink. Or take peanut butter crackers to someone who is allergic to peanuts.

gift ideas: If you don’t have time to cook, Sympathy Food can provide a complete nutritious meal to a grieving family.

7. Do you have photos at home or scrapbooks? If your friend likes to display keepsakes in their home, a personalized photo frame or decorative scrapbook in which they can keep memories can be a appreciated gift.

8. What kind of book will they get? If you choose a book, consider the stage of grievance your friend is in. The first few months after a loss can be extremely difficult and it can be difficult to concentrate. Books that are easy to digest and provide coping skills to people in similar situations may be best.

gift ideas: I received a very meaningful but simple book after my mother passed away called “How to Survive the Loss of a Love”.

9. Think out of the box. Gifts don’t need to be traditional; they can be as unique as your imagination.

gift ideas: When my friend Dan passed away, I couldn’t afford last minute airfare to attend the funeral. A friend of mine paid for my ticket using his frequent flyer miles.

10 Offer your support. Some people don’t need or want trinkets, books, or movies; they just want a friend who is there with a listening ear, a hug, and a warm heart.

Purchasing a special gift basket, an inspirational book, a personalized photo frame, a memorial ornament, or sending flowers to a grieving loved one can brighten their day and lift their spirits during a difficult time.

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