12 Sympathy Gift Ideas for Grieving Friends

three hands on a grave sharing Sympathy Gift Ideas

Because flowers are nice but these gift ideas will make a bigger impact…

My blog post on how to help a grieving friend was a big hit and, honestly, I was SO humbled by the DMs I received thanking me.  Truly- because of that, I decided I wanted to also do a blog post on grief gift ideas.  Yeah, of course, flowers are the traditional gift for loss (and they’re lovely) but, if I’m being honest, I kind of did an eye roll when someone sent me flowers (even at my dad’s funeral where I specifically requested a charity donation in lieu of flowers).  I get it – a lot of people love tradition, plus sending flowers is easy AF…but they die fast and it’s also something else I need to worry about as far as watering them and cleaning up the fallen petals, etc.

12 Sympathy Gift Ideas for Grieving Friends

THESE gifts, these gifts below are Jamie-approved after losing both my sister and my dad, so you know I’m kind of an expert in what someone would actually want while grieving.

Cleaning/sending a cleaning service

In my other grief post, I talked about how the fact that Devon just automatically cleaned my dirty pans for me made such a difference, and it’s true.  I’m also gonna be really honest and tell you that, after my sister died, my apartment was legit DISGUSTING.  I came home after the funeral and things were “supposed” to back to normal.  But they didn’t.  At least not for me.  I spent a lot of time just laying on my couch, staring at the ceiling and wondering what was next.

Trying to motivate my body to move…and it just didn’t move.  It got to the point where my apartment was so gross that I became overwhelmed with the idea of cleaning it, soI hired a friend’s cleaning woman to come over.  She was so kind and I cried when she left.  A little because I was so deeply sad, but also because it was nice to be in a clean space again…and it only cost me like $200.  Point being: if you can’t help clean for your friend (or don’t want to – I get it), a cleaning service gift is an AMAZING idea.  You can also split the gift with a friend or two if budget is an issue.

Food/meal delivery service

My friends Annette, Erika and Marisa were nice enough to offer to send me a meal (via a meal delivery app); honestly, food wasn’t something I was even thinking about so this was a really nice and thoughtful gift.  I also read that there are apps that organize “meal trains,” which is pretty genius.  Here are a few I found when searching: Give in KindMeal Train, and Take Them A Meal.

Charity donation

A charitable donation makes a great gift, and honestly for any occasion.  I’ve donated to various animal charities in honor of my friend’s pets, and I can also say that I’d be so touched if someone made a donation in memory of my dad or sister.

Massage gift card

Two of my friends (Gaby and Dahvi) chipped in and got me a massage gift certificate when my dad died – it’s something, again, you’re not really thinking about while deep in shock, but I definitely made an appointment within a few weeks…and it was 80 minutes of that week that I wasn’t thinking about being sad.

A soothing activity book

Everyone has different coping mechanisms when dealing with sadness and grief but, I will say, I really gravitated towards doing simple, non-stressful activities.  My friend Jordan’s book, The Big Activity Book for Anxious People, is honestly the perfect book for anyone who needs to feel a little more in control of what’s going on.  It’s funny in that you’ll LOL when you read the descriptions and games, yet it’s also soothing to your brain.

CBD sleep gummies

From my own experience right after my sister and dad died, sleep went like this: I slept like a rock or I slept exactly not at all.  CBD is great; Truly life changing, and I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried CBD (especially in skincare and for sleep!) to try it.  I actually think CBD skin products would also be a great gift since it relaxes muscles and helps with body aches (hello this Lord Jones High CBD Body Lotion and their High CBD Bath Salts), but for gummies I like these CBD and CBN Sleep Gummies and here’s a vegan version from Sunday Scaries.

A custom sympathy candle

There are tons of custom sympathy candles but I like this one from Etsy and this one from and this one from Laurel Box – so chic.  I definitely light candles for my sister and dad’s birthdays and death anniversaries, so this is a gift that is practical as well as thoughtful.

A chic locket

Lockets aren’t for everyone but I love the idea of finding a really chic-looking locket for someone you know will wear it with love.  This one is fancy but really pretty.  I also love this one (comes in gold and sterling silver) and this one because you can also feature their birth month flower.

Grief books

If you look over on Amazon, there are a LOT of books on grief, and I do think a grief book is a really thoughtful and helpful gift for someone who is deep in it.  To be honest, I wasn’t ready to read a grief book right away but, when I did feel ready, I picked up the copy of When Things Fall Apart that my friend Jamie Greenberg sent me when my sister died.  A grief book is helpful when they are READY to be helped, and I don’t mean that in the “rock bottom” kind of way – with grief there are stages, and repeated stages, and anger, and confusion…the person just has to be ready to face someone “helping” them head on.  A few other books that come highly recommended: Grief Day by Day, Your Grief Your Way, and The Daily Stoic (basically my bible).

A weighted blanket

The weighted blanket thing is, yes, a little trendy…but it does come with some science-backed shit.  Especially helpful if your friend is having trouble falling asleep, but I generally think a cozy blanket makes for a comforting gift anyway.  I got my nephew this weighted blanket and he LOVES IT.  You guys also know I love my Kardashian-approved soft AF blanket… it’s not weighted, but worth every penny.

31 days of kind notes

I got something almost exactly like this for my cousins when their mom died.  The idea of 31 days of kind notes is perfect because you open one note a day (a simple task that won’t overwhelm), and you read something kind.  It also reinforces the fact that your friend isn’t “alone” or done grieving simply after the funeral.  The notes include quotes like:

  • There may be no words, but there is an abundance of love.
  • Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow. -Unknown
  • Hang in there; take one day at a time.

Paper organizer

This is perhaps the weirdest gift idea (?) but, let me tell you, I wish I had known exactly how much paperwork I would have to organize/paperwork that would be coming my way in the following two years.  Full disclosure: most of it is still sitting in a Hofstra University (my alma mater) bookstore plastic bag on my bedroom floor, and I’m not ashamed about it, lol.  My dad is cringing, this I know.  Here’s what would’ve helped me and is still aesthetically pleasing: these file folders, this gold desk organizer and/or this gold file folder holder.


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