People don’t always remember what you said to them or gave to them but they do remember how you made them feel.
So what do you give to a bereaved person or family?
If you know the person well, you can give anything you like that doesn’t make them feel worse about the loss. Food is generally a safe bet. They have to eat and, many times, friends and family drop in during the hours and days after the funeral.
You can cook, bake, and deliver a meal or a dessert or pick one up from the bakery, deli, or grocery store. Or you can send a sympathy gift basket. If the bereaved is a woman and you know her well enough for it to be appropriate, a spa or pamper yourself gift could be appropriate.
For a child who has lost a family member something soft to cuddle with could speak volumes without your having to say a word. Send a Care Package or a Bear Hug gift.
Before you send flowers, find out if they are appropriate. Various religions have traditions and customs regarding sympathy flowers. Here is some help:
Buddhist – Send white flowers, the traditional color of mourning in Buddhist culture. Yellow flowers are also acceptable. Red flowers symbolize happiness and are not considered an appropriate tribute.
Christian – Most denominations consider flowers an appropriate tribute with no limitations on the color of choice.
Hindu – Flowers may be an appropriate gift depending on family preference. A gift of fruit delivered to the bereaved family’s home is also considered a welcome gesture of sympathy.
Jewish – Flowers may be an appropriate gift depending on family preference. A gift of fruit, sweets or food delivered to the bereaved family’s home is also considered a welcome gesture of sympathy.
Muslim – Flowers may be an appropriate gift depending on family preference. A gift of food sent to the bereaved family’s home is also considered a welcome gesture of sympathy.
Money may even be appropriate if handled discreetly and may even be the most appreciated gift of all. Put your cash or check in an envelope and either mail or hand it to the person you want to receive it so that they don’t feel embarrassed. You can always say that you didn’t know what to get or send and they can pick out what they want or need.
Although the ideal time to send a sympathy gift is as soon as possible after the funeral, it is never too late.
Oftentimes, the bereaved are overwhelmed with flowers, food, and condolences before and during a funeral. But when the flowers have died, the food has been eaten, and the friends have all gone home, a gift from you is like a hug that whispers “I’m still thinking of you!”
So, even though you may send your condolences at the time of the funeral, don’t forget to follow up with a sympathy gift a few weeks or even a month later. It doesn’t have to be expensive or large. It could even be something as simple as offering to watch the children for an afternoon, dropping off a meal or a desert, or doing something else that may make life easier as he or she attempts to adjust to the loss.