Ditch the Daisies: Gifts for Someone Who Lost a Loved One

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Supporting a grieving friend or family member who has lost a loved one is challenging. Sure, a fragrant bouquet with a sweet message, or a fresh fruit basket, are nice gift ideas. However, the best sympathy gifts are those that support the griever and help keep their loved one’s memory alive in a lasting way.

Flowers are not the only sympathy gift to help a friend in grief. Read for the best memorial gift ideas.

Unfortunately, there is simply no right gift to give. Each individual experiences loss differently. While there is no ‘one-size fits all’ guide of items to give, here are some condolence gifts that are adaptable and will undoubtedly help a family member or someone you care about get through this tough time.

Create a Personalized Gift

A personalized sympathy gift is always a thoughtful way to honor a lost loved one. You can honor the individual’s life and the relationship between them and your friend or family member grieving in a sentimental way. A custom memorial gift offers comfort during this time of grief.

Portrait gift to offer support to loved one in grief.

Sending a sweet message is a thoughtful gift, but if you truly want to show you care, get a great gift from the heart. Check out these unique sympathy gifts for someone who lost a loved one.

Design a One-of-a-kind Portrait

One beautiful way to do this is by taking a photo of their lost loved one and customizing it into a memorial portrait. Honor the memory of a trip shared with family members, or unite them with another lost loved one with the help of a professional artist.

A compilation family portrait shows your deepest sympathy for their loss.

You can even incorporate a special message on the painting or design a sentimental background for an even more personal touch. For someone who is grieving, a family portrait painting is a beautiful way for them to be uplifted by the happy memories they had. Here are some tips and information about the types of portraits you can choose for a unique sympathy gift.

Oil Portraits

The pros of this medium are that oil is rich in color and layered. These types of paintings are classic and timeless, allowing the person in grief to enjoy the painting forever. Using this medium in a painting is a beautiful way of portraying exquisite details of the subjects in the composition.

Dreamed up moment come to life in an oil painting.

The photos that work best when transforming them into oil portraits are ones that convey deep emotion and have a lot of details. You can bring to life a beautiful group photo as well as one or two subject images.

Charcoal Portraits

The pros of this medium are that charcoal creates a piece in grayscale. Therefore, it will complement any style of space that it is hung in. The depths of the greyscale evoke pure emotions.

Charcoal portrait featuring two grandchildren and two grandparents at the beach.

The photos that work best when transforming them into charcoal portraits are artworks that are emotional and feature exquisite shadows and highlights.

Watercolor Portraits

The pros of this medium are that watercolor portraits are often lighter and brighter in appearance than other mediums. Expressive watercolor brushstrokes have a calming effect.

Watercolor portrait of two subjects. The painting features a written message embellishment.

The photos that work best when transforming them into watercolor portraits are ones that capture delicate, airy landscapes and one to two subjects. Children, for example, are beautifully portrayed in this type of portrait.

Acrylic, pastel, colored pencil, and black pencil portraits are also beautiful ways of capturing a lost loved one for a grieving person who needs your love and support. It is imperative to choose a painting medium that best evokes the emotion and memory you are trying to convey. No matter what medium you choose, a  custom-painted portrait is a timeless gift. It is far more special than any classic sympathy gift; it is a special gesture that will capture the memory of the departed for generations to come.

Reuse Items to Create A Keepsake

If you have access to any belongings, you can create an incredible condolence gift that expresses your love and support in a sincere way. Reusing their old clothing, photos, or other belongings and transforming them into a creative sympathy gift is a very thoughtful way to honor their memory.

Custom, hand-made bear made from departed's clothing.

Keepsake Gifts for Children

For a child who lost a loved one and needs a friend to lean on, a teddy bear, pillow, or quilt made from their family member’s clothing is a beautiful way to honor their memory and comfort their aching heart.

Patchwork quilt made from departed's clothing.

This sympathy gift is the perfect gift for a child in grief- they will feel physically closer to a person they miss dearly when they’re able to snuggle up with an article of their clothing and smell their scent.

Keepsake Gifts for Adults

For adults who have lost a loved one, regardless of whether it is a family member or friend, you can use old photographs, jewelry, and other items and turn them into unique sympathy gifts that capture a loved one’s memory.

A beautiful way to do this is to create a shadow box by combining sentimental photos that highlight special memories and mix them with a variety of personal items, such as brooches, earrings, buttons, or cufflinks, to make a classic sympathy gift that is not only gorgeous but also timeless.

Personalized shadow box gift featuring friend who passed.

These types of personalized condolence gifts do require more of your time to create, but it is well worth it! Your thoughtful sympathy gift will continue to comfort them long after food baskets have been eaten and flower arrangements wilt.

Offer Practical ‘Hands-on’ Support 

When a person is grieving, they might find it uncomfortable to ask for help. Although there are many memorial gifts for someone who lost a loved one, offering a helping hand and a listening ear are very practical ways to offer sympathy and much-needed assistance.

This may not appear to be the most unique gift you can give a grieving loved one; however, someone who is supposed to continue carrying on with their regular responsibilities while going through the hardships of this period will likely need help managing it all.

Assist a loved one in grief with tasks and responsibilites.

Help With Errands

Instead of asking a friend in grief if they need anything, offer more specific ways that you can help. They might feel exhausted by the pain or arrangements that need to be made, so this is one less thing they need to worry about. Here are a few suggestions you can make.

Getting groceries to lend a helping hand to a grieving friend.

Thoughtful Offers to Suggest

  • Pick up some things at the supermarket for them.
  • Help send or organize paperwork.
  • Take their children to school or other activities.
  • Contact a person or an organization on their behalf.

Any offers that you can provide for the griever and their family will lift a weight off their shoulders. When you can’t think of the ‘right sympathy gift’ to give a grieving person you care about, assisting them with errands is the perfect gift. Your love and support will never go unnoticed.

Give the Gift of Listening

It may seem obvious, but offering a listening ear to a grieving person is one of the most comforting gifts (and it’s the most affordable one, too!) While this sincere act of generosity of your time and energy might be the most difficult to give, it is immensely important for someone who lost a loved one.

Listen to a friend in grief to provide support.

Whether you met their loved one or not, grievers need to continue to connect and incorporate their loved ones into their lives even after they’ve passed. Here are some open-ended questions to help the griever share their feelings (if and when they are ready to).

Open-Ended Questions to Ask

  • “How can I help you feel less overwhelmed?”
  • “What’s a favorite memory you shared with your loved one?”
  • “Can I see a favorite photo you have of them?”
  • “Is there a special message or saying that they’d often say?”

Give grieving friend a shoulder to lean on.

By talking about their loved one and the memories they shared, they can positively reflect on the ways they’ll continue to impact their lives. Open-ended questions are important because it helps you stray away from getting one-word answers. This gives the griever an opportunity to answer sentimentally about their lost loved one.

Remember: the griever might not remember what you said or did to comfort them, but they will remember how you made them feel. Acknowledging their feelings and supporting them in more practical ways will give them a safe space to heal, and they will be grateful to you for this for years to come.

Collaboration Gifts

While personalized sympathy gifts absolutely make the best gifts, collaborating with others to offer a sentimental gift as a group can comfort the griever tremendously. It lets them know they aren’t alone- they have a community of love and support.

Group sympathy gifts to offer a grieving friend.

When you create this condolence gift for someone who lost a loved one, it is crucial to take into account your relationship with them. Is this a person a friend, or is it a family member? How close are you? Depending on these factors, here are different gift ideas to celebrate the loved one’s memory and express your sympathy for their loss.

Write Sweet Messages 

As a group, a beautiful way of supporting a grieving friend or family member is by handwriting sweet messages detailing a few things you will remember their loved one. Although you can type out the message, doing it by hand definitely adds a personal touch. In addition, you can include your favorite photo of them.

Decorative image of sympathy gifts idea. Book with the title "In Loving Memory" and flowers.

Here is a template to help you start writing this sentimental gift that will help them keep their loved one’s memory alive.

Thoughtful Message Template

Offer your sympathy to someone with a hand-written message.

A personal message and pictures can be put into a beautiful keepsake box or an album they will cherish forever. This is a great present because the receiver can store it wherever they want. It doesn’t take up much space, and they can look at it throughout the various stages of their grieving process. No matter where life takes them, this gift will always be an incredible source of love and support.

Slideshow or Video Compilation

A beautiful way to honor the person who’s passed is by giving their loved ones a personalized slideshow of favorite photos of them with their family and friends. It is a great gift for someone who is grieving after they recently lost a loved one and for those who lost a loved one years ago.

Make a slideshow highlighting the departed's beautiful life to offer sympathy to their loved ones.

To create this personalized memorial gift,  reach out to those they loved. Capture relationships and memories from all the different stages in their life. Here are important moments to include.

Life Moments to Highlight

  • Their childhood memories
  • Sports, school, and graduation milestones
  • Special trips
  • Happy memories shared with coworkers and career highlights

In the personalized slideshow, you can also include special messages that their loved ones wrote as well. The best sympathy gifts represent the person’s full life for the grievers to get comfort forever.

Make a slideshow highlighting the departed's beautiful life to offer sympathy to their loved ones.

There are few things more emotional and sentimental than watching videos of a loved one who has passed on. Creating a video compilation featuring photos and sweet messages that their friends and family members shared takes the slideshow collaboration gift a notch higher. Their loved one’s memory is brought to life. They can hear their voice and laugh again and watch them dance or embrace.

Don’t forget to set the tone for your creation by including some of their favorite songs. Create a music playlist that honors their life in an emotional or positive way. Getting gifts for someone who lost a loved one can feel impossible, but by creating a personalized video/slideshow sympathy gift, they will have something to honor their loved one’s memory for the rest of their life.

If you are looking for the right sympathy gift that shows your love and support, give one that is either a practical or personalized tangible gift that features sweet messages, photos, and other personal touches.

The best sympathy present is a hand-painted portrait gift. Watch this moving reaction!

Navigating hardships is tough.

When friends and family members show up and offer support, it can be a little easier.