Alternative Sympathy Gifts


Flowers are a common gift for people grieving the loss of a loved one. When you do not want to give flowers, or if the family has requested that people not give a floral gift, consider choosing an alternative sympathy gift. Lots of other gifts can convey to the family your condolences for their loss.

Memory Basket

  • Create a memory basket filled with items that will give the deceased person's family good memories of him. For example, fill the basket with movies he liked to watch, one or two of his favorite books, snacks that he always enjoyed, and other objects reminiscent of him. This is a gift best given if you were very close to the deceased and his family, since that means you will know them well enough to create an appropriate basket.


  • Purchase a gift to commemorate the person who has died. For example, the Arbor Day Foundation helps people plant trees in honor of a loved one, and you can also have a star named for a person who has passed away. Other ideas could be to have a bench or picnic table in a local park the loved one used to frequent fitted with a memorial plaque, or to purchase a stone in a walkway at her college or university that is engraved with her name and other information about her.


  • If a person or family is struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one, give them a book on handling grief. For example, choose a book about the grieving process that can educate them on what is normal for a grieving person to experience and provide tools to help them overcome their sadness and loss. If they are religious, consider choosing an inspirational book written by a leader of their church that gives information and advice based on the beliefs of the religion.


  • Another alternative to giving flowers as a gift in memory of a deceased friend is a donation. Sometimes, a person's death might leave a particular need within his family. If a fund has been set up to help them with medical expenses and other bills, consider contributing to that. Otherwise, you could contribute to a nonprofit organization that the deceased person supported. If he died of a disease, donate in his name to a group researching a cure.

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