Coping with death is one of the hardest emotions a person can go through in life. When you are not the one grieving, it is important to deal with the person who is sensitively and with compassion. Providing gifts as a sympathetic gesture to someone who has lost a husband may seem like a small token of your regret, but it can mean a world of difference to the woman who lost her husband, and with any luck, may even provide a smile or two.
Plants, Not Flowers
Ideally, when someone is coping with the death of their husband, the last thing they want to be exposed to is the death of anything else. This includes flowers. As beautiful as flowers are when they arrive, the do not last forever. Dealing with death on any level, whether it is something as simple as flowers, is not something the griever should be subjected to. Consider buying a plant with a history of longevity and is easy to take care of, such as a cactus.
A time honored tradition in helping people cope with loss is providing them with meals so they do not have to cook for themselves. Grieving takes a toll on a person's ability to eat, with cooking lying near the end of the motivation spectrum. Look for gift baskets that provide food that will not age or spoil quickly, such as cookies and muffins, or nuts and crackers.
Losing a husband is a completely life altering change to the entire existence of their spouse. Very few gifts seem appropriate for such a monumental loss, with the exception of a memorial. Consider the personality of the person who has lost their husband, and research memorials accordingly. If she is not a fan of wind chimes, follow that knowledge and look for something more reflective of her personality, like a stone for her garden.
Although buying jewelry for someone is a considerable source of personalization, it can also be a simple way of saying that you are thinking about her, and want her to know that every time she passes that token of your love in her jewelry box, she knows you are there to help. If faith is a large part of a person's life, you may want to consider buying a cross, or a similar item denoting her faith.
Think of all the things this person does on a daily basis, and how your gift can help. For instance, if she has a large home, consider hiring a maid service to clean her home. Coordinate with the cleaning company via gift card or phone call that allows the grieving widow to schedule the cleaning when she sees fit, while applying a "helping hand" note to the announcement. Donations and sponsorships on behalf of the widow, in the name of the deceased, are also functional and appreciated.