Traditionally, on the death of a loved one, flower arrangements are sent as gifts of support and sympathy. However, many surviving family members and friends can feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of flowers received and perplexed by what to do with all of them. Flowers, by their very nature, die and can remind the surviving family members of their loved one and how they have passed away.
So, what can you send instead of flowers to show your support and sympathy to the deceased’s immediate family? Firstly, check the obituary or funeral home web site to discover if the family has already offered an ‘instead of flowers’ suggestion.
Here are some alternative gift ideas to giving flowers to a bereaved family that will help you express your sympathy.
- Offer a dedication or donation that reflects the life of the person or your relationship with them. If the person was involved in a community organisation, call to see if a donation can be made in their memory and an acknowledgement provided to the family.
- Give a carefully selected plant or shrub that the family can place in their garden in memory of their loved one.
- Consider putting together a memorial album or gallery of photos that the family doesn’t have of their loved one. As the weeks and months pass by, they will be glad to have as many pictures as possible.
- Compile a book of letters about the deceased. Friends can write letters to the family about the family member who passed away and reveal how they touched the lives of others in ways they may have been unaware of. This is a gesture that many families may appreciate in years to come.
- Present a soft toy to a young child that they can cuddle and seek comfort from during their time of grieving. Often young children can feel left out when all the attention is being placed on the parent who has passed away.
- Provide a simple meal in single serving sizes that can be refrigerated, frozen or heated up easily by the family – casseroles, soups, stews and homemade breads are ideal – with a note of sympathy attached. When people are in mourning, cooking for themselves is not a top priority.
- Provide a box of muffins or cakes that can be dropped off at the bereaved family’s home prior to the funeral that can be offered as refreshments during the wake.
- Give a self-care basket containing spa products, a gift certificate for a massage, a candle, a magazine and a DVD. This is a nice gesture that will help the surviving spouse take time to care for themselves.
- Provide a basket of useful goodies that the bereaved family can use when relatives and friends drop in, often unexpectedly. It could include: plastic plates and cutlery, toilet paper, tea bags, instant coffee, long life milk and a roll of stamps for the numerous thank-you notes the bereaved family will be sending.
- Send gift certificates for local take-away restaurants, supermarkets and specialist providores with a note attached saying, “I am sure that you have enough food now. This is for later on.”
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