What Is Considered an Aproppriate Sympathy Gift?

Published August 3, 2020
Guardian angel and dragon flowers

When you want to honor someone's life, you may send a sympathy gift to the deceased individual's loved ones who you were closest to in life. This gift should be selected with care and practicality in mind.

Types of Appropriate Sympathy Gift Ideas

Selecting the right sympathy gift means picking out something that is meaningful and helpful to the grieving person. Go beyond sending plants and funeral flower arrangements by giving another appropriate gift

Keepsake Gifts

A bereavement gift that reminds the person of their loved one, from a small angel figurine to a memorial candle, are commonly given. These types of gifts are appropriate because they allow the grieving individual(s) a place to focus on when remembering their loved one.

Helpful and Practical Gifts

Gifts of service, from raking leaves to watching small children, are often welcomed. Gifts of service are often put to immediate use and help relieve stress for the person(s) who receive it. Practical gifts that fill a need or can be put to use, like a sympathy throw that can be displayed and then used at home, are also good types of gifts to give.

Charitable Donations

Families may request no flowers or ask you to give a memorial donation in lieu of flowers in their deceased loved one's honor. If this is the case, you'll want to honor the family's wishes. The family may request a particular charitable cause or simply request a donation to a charity of choice in their loved one's name. Make your donation directly to the charity, rather than expect the family to handle it.

Religious Gifts

If the deceased and his or her family is a member of a religious community, giving a religious-based gift is appropriate in many faiths. If you are not a member of the same religion, seek out a retailer or boutique that specializes in items from the faith that can offer you direction in what would be appropriate.

Gifts of Care and Concern

Self-care may be left by the wayside when someone is grieving. Gifts that gently remind people to take care of themselves, such as food baskets, robes, bath and spa items, or even a massage, are good types of gifts to give.

Etiquette for Sympathy Gift Giving

Giving a grieving person a gift can bring up some funeral etiquette questions. Whatever the circumstances, you'll need to consider several things before purchasing and giving the gift.

Is Giving Money Appropriate?

Giving cash (or a check) to the immediate family is something experts caution against. Only do so if you know the family well and it is common in their circle. If you want to give money, do it discreetly. Put the money in a sealed sympathy card that goes into a basket or box at the visitation or include it in a card sent after the funeral. When in doubt, it is better to go with another gift such as flowers or a keepsake.

How Much Should I Spend on a Gift?

What you spend on your sympathy gift is up to you. However, there are a couple things to consider before purchasing something. Keep your spending in line with how close you are to the deceased and family. The closer you are, the more appropriate it is to spend a little more. If you're giving a gift in lieu of flowers, spend the same amount on the gift that you would have on the plant or flowers.

When Should I Give the Gift?

Avoid bringing a gift to the funeral or service itself. Flowers and cards can be brought or sent directly to the funeral home or the person's house. If you have a small item to give, then you may want to cover it with tissue paper or plain wrapping and bring it to the visitation as well. Food items should be brought to the person's home. When dropping off a gift at the person's home, call ahead to make sure someone is there to receive it. Mailing a gift or sympathy card is also appropriate.

Remembering Loved Ones

Sending someone a sympathy gift when a loved one passes away is a thoughtful gesture. The time you put into selecting the gift and personalizing it for them honors the deceased individual and their family.

What Is Considered an Aproppriate Sympathy Gift?