Losing someone you care about is extremely difficult. You have to navigate final arrangements, funerals, and the endless calls from friends offering condolences.
Watching a friend or loved one go through that loss is difficult in a different way. There is an inherent dilemma in being on the outside of a loss and wanting to sympathize. Sympathy gift ideas can be difficult to decide on, since everyone processes grief differently.
Traditional sympathy gifts of flowers are beautiful, but can be overwhelming. Many people feel it is wasteful to cut so many flowers that are only for the day of the funeral, and then go to waste.
Most people do not take funeral bouquets home with them, so this is a gift that is really only for the day of the funeral. Live plants like peace lilies are better, but require someone to take the responsibility of taking care of them.
For many people, live plants can be a daily reminder of the life of the person they cared for. For others, however, they can be a source of anxiety.
If you keep a plant because it is a reminder of the person you lost, it can be heartbreaking if that plant dies, as they often do. This can cause one more grief point months or even years later.
The Best Sympathy Gift is Consumable
Think of every funeral scene in every movie you have ever seen. Immediately after the funeral, an endless stream of grandmotherly types show up with food. Cakes, casseroles, and pies. Shows and films will often make a joke of someone eating casseroles out of the freezer months or even years later.
This trope exists because food is comforting. Food is also life giving and necessary, but requires effort to acquire. After a loss, people often don’t have the energy to take care of their needs.
A gift of food is a gift of life, but it is also a gift of comfort. Positive memories are tied up in eating. The sense of smell is most closely linked to memory, but most of those scent memories are about food.
Think back to your childhood memories of visiting a grandparent. You probably remember the smell of the soup on the stove, or the cookies they would bake.
When you give a treat box as a gift, you are giving comfort. A sweet treat in a bitter moment can remind the recipient of the love they had for their lost loved one. It can also provide a little escape from the pain they are dealing with.
Another benefit of sending a sweet treat is that they can be shared. When dealing with a loss, you often have friends and family come in from out of town, and you have to make sure everyone is fed, even while no one feels like preparing food.
That gift of sweetness can impact multiple people, for days or even weeks after the funeral, when flowers would have long since faded.
You can also send a treat as a gift on important anniversaries for the bereaved. If a wife lost her husband, his birthday and their anniversary may be harder on her than the anniversary of his death.
The first Christmas or Valentine’s day after the loss of a loved one are usually exceptionally hard. Remembering those people with a gift box on those dates along with a card of sympathy shows you care, and often means more, since you can go a bit numb when the loss is fresh.
To summarize, While sympathy gifts should be customized to the relationship you have with the bereaved, you can’t really go wrong with edible treats.