Bereavement gifts help express condolences and remind a mourner of the support surrounding him. But often times, choosing a gift can test your ability to show love and respect. A proper bereavement gift honors the memory of the deceased, shows appropriate affection for the mourner and is neither too celebratory nor too depressing.
Food doesn’t just express concern; it serves a practical purpose by removing the weight of menial activities off of the mourner. Although pies are often welcome food gifts, more practical foods serve a purpose as well. Consider making a sandwich platter coupled with a note that says: “I hope this makes things easier for you.”
Create a memorial gift for the mourner. Memorial gifts include: framed pictures, a garden stone with the deceased’s name on it or a donation to a favorite charity in honor of the deceased. Whatever gift you purchase or create, include a note stating why you chose to give this gift. Sometimes, creating a memorial gift might cause more immediate pain for the mourner. If the bereaved is still adjusting to life without her loved one, wait to give a memorial gift until you think she can handle this reminder.
A Simple Note
A simple note reminds your acquaintance that you are available during his period of bereavement. When writing a note, include the following things: an expression of condolence, an honest feeling (such as “it devastates me to see you go through this”) and a measure of what you can do to help. Never include a statement such as “if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask,” unless you truly intend on helping. Additionally, Emily Post suggests including a respectful anecdote about the deceased, if you knew her. For example, an appropriate anecdote might read: “I remember how Jane always brought cookies in the spring. I looked forward to this every year, all year.”
Flowers make thoughtful bereavement gifts, especially for those close to you. Although flowers may seem cliche, a Rutgers Magazine article reports that they serve a very important purpose: during a Rutgers University double-blind study, scientists gave three different gifts (a candle, a fruit basket and flowers) to participants, measuring the indications of visible happiness for each person. Unlike any other gift given, flowers produced a considerable increase in visible happiness for the entire collection of participants. When selecting flowers for the grieving, follow "The Language of Flowers" guide from Iowa State University: include dark crimson roses for mourning, zinnia for remembrance (though you might want to avoid any that make the bouquet too colorful), white hyacinth to signify prayer, white poppy for consolation and the iris for hope. If you choose to send flowers to the funeral, Reiman Gardens indicate that the sweet pea and cyclamen signify a goodbye or departure.