Bereavement gifts: what to give someone who is grieving

picture of a women giving flower at a funeral

It can be hard to know what to buy someone who is grieving. You know you can’t ease the pain of their grief, but you still want to show your support.

What makes an appropriate gift for bereavement? Gift-giving is always personal – but here are a few suggestions that often make good gifts for someone who’s grieving.

Bereavement gift ideas

Flowers

Flowers are the most common gifts to give someone who has lost a loved one. They’re seen as gestures of sympathy for times when it’s hard to find the right words.

Do you know if the person who has died had a favourite flower? You could send a bunch of those along with a short sympathy note. You could also choose flowers based on what they represent or simply because you like the way they look.

While flowers are popular, they’re not always the best bereavement gift idea. If lots of people send flowers, the grieving person could run out of space to put them. And some people think flowers make bad gifts for the bereaved because they quickly wilt and die. This could remind the person of their loss and make grieving more painful.

Something for the garden

While flowers don’t last, potted plants do. Give your friend a living perennial plant and it should bring them joy for many seasons to come. Depending on the plant you choose, they could keep it indoors or plant it in their garden in memory of their loved one.

A care basket

Grief makes it harder to do everyday things like shopping, so why not put together a care basket of treats and groceries? This will show that you understand what they’re going through and you’re willing to put the effort in to make them feel better.

It’s up to you what to put in the basket, but here are a few ideas:

If you can include some of their favourite foods and treats, even better.

A personalised gift

When we grieve, it’s easy to feel like the person who has died is being forgotten because people are worried about mentioning them. So don’t be afraid to give your friend a gift that reminds them of their lost loved one. This is a good way to show that the person who has died is still in your thoughts.

How about giving your friend a unique bereavement gift that’s personalised with their loved one’s name or photograph? Here are a few ideas:

Want to give an extra special gift? You could buy a copy of the person’s favourite book or record and have it inscribed with their name. Or you could contribute to the cost of a memorial bench or plaque in a location they loved to visit.

A helping hand

One of the best gifts for someone who is grieving is your own time. Grieving people often need time for themselves. If they’re too busy, they might not have space to properly process their grief.

So give a little of your own time. Offer them a helping hand with the chores of daily life.

Here are a few ways you could help out:

Make sure not to impose yourself on them, though. Sometimes grieving people want to be left alone, so respect their need for space if they say no.

You could always give them a self-care voucher that they can use when they feel ready. This could be for a spa day, a massage or even a short stay in a hotel.

A donation to a charity

Donating to a charity is a practical and meaningful way to pay tribute to someone. Your friend is sure to appreciate the gesture – especially if they’ve received lots of gifts and don’t know what to do with them all.

It’s a good idea to choose a charity that means something to your friend. If their loved one died from an illness, you could donate to a charity that funds medical research for that illness. Or how about giving money to a hospice or care home that looked after the person who has died?

When is it best to give bereavement gifts?

You don’t have to give your bereavement gift immediately after the funeral. In fact, you might want to wait a few weeks before sending a gift to someone who is grieving. This shows that you’re still thinking of them and you appreciate that the grieving process takes time. 

It’s also a nice gesture to send a gift on the anniversary of a person’s death. This is often a painful and lonely time for the person’s friends and family, so receiving an unexpected present can be very comforting. 

Should I give a gift at the funeral?

You’re not expected to bring gifts for funerals in the UK – at least when it comes to traditional Christian funerals. 

The exception is flowers. Lots of people bring floral tributes to Christian funerals as small tokens of sympathy. It’s common for guests to attach a condolence card to the flowers too. 

Other faiths have different etiquette for funeral gifts. For instance, Jews don’t usually accept flowers because they might distract people from grieving and reflecting. And many Muslims appreciate gifts of food after a funeral but they may or may not accept flowers. If you’re not sure, it’s best to ask. 

More helpful guides

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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