A Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Grievers

Holidays and Special Days / Holidays and Special Days : Litsa Williams

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Whether you are shopping as a griever or for a griever (or both!), searching for gifts at the holidays can be tough. You're surrounded by all those happy people at Target. Meanwhile there you are, struggling to find the motivation to shop or struggling to find the 'right' gift for someone who has suffered a devastating loss this year—all to the soundtrack of holiday music that may be bringing more tears than joy.

So today, we want to share a handful of ideas of grief gifts you can buy for someone grieving, or as someone grieving. We know there are many other great ideas, so please leave a comment with your ideas to keep our list going!

We picked all of these items because we truly love them and think they are wonderful gifts. Some links are affiliate links, which means if you decide to make a purchase through this list you pay what you always would, but a small percent of your purchase goes toward the free grief education and support offered here at What's Your Grief!

Memorial Jewelry:

CaitlynMinimalist Memorial Jewelry
CaitlynMinimalist Memorial Jewelry
TSKSilver Thumbprint Ring
TSKSilver Thumbprint Ring
MignonandMignon Pet Memorial Necklace
MignonandMignon Pet Memorial Necklace

The variety when it comes to memorial jewelry seems to grow every day. You can never go wrong with jewelry, and memorial jewelry allows someone to remember the person they’ve lost. You can get creative and make your own, or purchase some online (Etsy is a great option for this!). And if you like any of the examples above, click the image for the link to purchase.

Hapless Holiday Box:

compassion package from here for you 1
compassion package from here for you 2

We love these Compassion Packages from our friends over at Here For You! They have a ton of options for different types of losses, and you can even customize your own box. And, once again, you can click the images above to be view these options on the Here For You site.


BetterMadeByMeriah Memorial Frame
BetterMadeByMeriah Memorial Frame
VonaGifts Memorial Frame
VonaGifts Memorial Frame

If you have a nice photograph of the person who died that other friends or family may not have, a framed photo can be a lovely gesture. Things Remembered and Etsy are always great options for getting frames engraved (or almost anything else engraved, including memorial candles, memory boxes, jewelry, etc). If you like any of the examples above, click the image for the option to purchase.

Memorial Ornaments:

HelloMellowPrints Ornament
Hallmark Annual Memorial Ornament, 2022
Hallmark Annual Memorial Ornament, 2022

Decorating at the holidays can be tough, especially in the first couple of years after a loss. Giving someone an ornament in memory of their loved one is a lovely way to incorporate the loved one into the holiday. It could be an engraved ornament, or one with a photograph, or just be something that reminds you of the person who died. This may be something you create or something you purchase. If you would like to purchase, Etsy is a great place to look. And Hallmark puts out an a new memorial ornament each year. If you like any of the examples above, click the image for the option to purchase.

Items That Belonged To Your Loved One:

Parting with a loved one's belongings can be difficult. If you are responsible for the belongings of someone who died, one thing you can do is give meaningful items to others as a holiday gift. It can be jewelry, cuff links, a piece of artwork, or anything else that a friend or family member would treasure.

Framed Recipes, Letters, Notes, etc:

rusticoakdesign Framed Recipe
rusticoakdesign Framed Recipe
RootedandBuiltDesign Framed Recipe

When someone dies their handwritten notes, recipes, and letters take on a new significance. If you have something like this it can be framed and turned into a nice gift. If you like any of the options above, click the photo for the option to purchase. You can also check out our article, 9 Ways to Preserve Handwriting.

Tammy Bears:

tammy bear 3

A Tammy Bear is a bear made out of an article of clothing. If you visit the tammybears.com, you can order a custom bear made from whatever piece of clothing you wish. This can be a meaningful way to do something with your loved one’s clothing. And I'm sure that if you're more crafty than I am, you could probably make a bear like this yourself.


GillybugDesigns Quilt
GillybugDesigns Quilt
QuiltRich Quilt
QuiltRich Quilt

Like a Tammy Bear, you can make quilts out of someone’s clothing (or order them online if you're less crafty!). You can check out some amazing examples of memorial quilts here, or click the photos above to see some options you can buy online.

Massage or Spa Gift Certificate:

When we are grieving, it becomes very hard to take care of ourselves. Our bodies physically hold on to the stress that comes with a loss. So, a gift certificate for a massage or other spa treatment can encourage a griever to take care of themselves.

The Gift of Grief Support: the What's Your Grief Book

Whatever loss they have been through, What's Your Grief: Lists to Help You Through Any Loss was written to provide accessible, relatable, concrete, creative ways to better understand and cope with grief. Written by mental health professionals who have survived their fair share of personal loss, this book is a great gift to help those in your life head into a new year. Get it at the following book stores:

grief book

Memory/Memorial Boxes:

EngraveMyMemories Memorial Boxes
 CadesandBirch Memorial Box
CadesandBirch Memorial Box
uniquegiftworkshop Miscarriage Memorial Box
uniquegiftworkshop Miscarriage Memorial Box

A memory or memorial box is a classic grief gift. There are many online, ranging dramatically in size and style. If you like any of the examples above, click the image for the option to purchase.

Things Your Loved One Would Have Loved:

One of the things that can be tough about holiday shopping is seeing things your loved one would have loved. It's a painful reminder that they're gone. But consider buying those items and giving them to someone else who would love them (even if it isn't someone you would normally shop for). You can also donate these items to a charity in memory of your loved one.

Leave a comment with your ideas for grief gifts.  

We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

Let’s be grief friends.

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21 Comments on "A Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Grievers"

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  1. Alexa  December 16, 2019 at 10:12 am Reply

    Waooo, thank you so much for these awesome gift ideas. I have picked two of these ideas for me.
    Good blog post, by the way.

  2. Melissa Johnson  December 22, 2018 at 9:48 pm Reply

    My mom went home July 2018, one day after my birthday. I was her primary caretaker, and she lived with me the last 5 years. My dad and her husband of 40 years went home 1998. Mom’s passing is 10,000 times work difficult for me. Dad’s was unexpected, my I care for her through every transition of the stages of death. I held her hand and prayed, me and my youngest adult son was at her side as she took her last breath. I miss her so very much. I cried to see her decline, I wanted her happy and agile. Her mind was sharp until the last week. She knew about six months ahead her time was near. It depressed her so, I cry now thinking how I tried so hard to give her joy in the last months. In general, I believe mom was satisfied and knew I was doing my best. She was in hospice at home. I was taking pictures one day at the park. I had put mom in her wheelchair, made breakfast, and strolled to the park. She would not smile, I said mom smile after several candid shots, mom said, I don’t won’t to smile. It broke my heart. I realized she no longer wanted pictures as she though she was looking too old. I became more discreet.

    Everything reminds me of my mom. I work longer hours, I sleep in her room. I am surviving, but my memories hurt. I thought all of our memories would help, when mom passed, but nope, they hurt.

  3. Marie  December 18, 2018 at 8:53 pm Reply

    Also – Bottle of Tears allows you to send a vintage jar and encouragement to a griever.

  4. Candice  December 17, 2018 at 11:18 pm Reply

    My dad was working in a large wood project when he passed away. He had painted the boards and put it partially together but it wasn’t finished. I took the boards apart and cut them into smaller pieces & framed them. I painted the gps coordinates of the business he started & building he owned for 30 years on them and gave them to my mom, brothers & sistes, and the grandkids. It took me 6 years to figure out what to do with these boards… I’m glad I didn’t rush it. They turned out perfect.

  5. Marjorie  December 12, 2018 at 1:30 am Reply

    It is nine months when the the love of my life of fifty years lost his life to cancer. I am grateful for those years but, now. I don’t know how I can get through this coming Christmas and, the rest of my life without him.

    • Charmaine Tunn  December 4, 2019 at 3:00 am Reply

      Marjorie I read so many of these terribly sad posts like yours. My son died 6 months ago and I feel just like you do. I am already living in dread of Christmas. I went to the doctor today to get some anti depressants. You will make it, just like I will. It will be horrible but next year will be better….it has to be. Thinking of you with love.

  6. Elaine Troth  December 11, 2018 at 11:11 am Reply


    Are you waiting on me to submit information about my custom necklace?

  7. Donna  December 2, 2016 at 11:24 am Reply

    My husband passed away a few days before Thanksgiving 2015. Our grandchildren ranged in age from 2 to 22. “Papa” was a huge personality and very loved. Last Christmas was very hard for all of us. I decided at the last moment to write each of them a personal note from their Dad & Papa. I wanted each of them to know how much he loved them, what he appreciated about them and what his hopes were for them. This year has been tough and new challenges have been added. I’m considering making this a new tradition. Helping to keep their Papas memory alive.

  8. Ann Sommers  December 11, 2015 at 4:49 pm Reply

    This year i have each one of my husband’s special children, his grandchildren and great nieces, a memory bear made out of some of his favorite shirts. Last year, i had both my sons a throw made out of their Dad’s clothing. I also had each of his sisters a coffee mug with a wonderful picture of him. Lots of tears but lots of heing and doing a this helped my grief also.!

    • Litsa  December 12, 2015 at 6:53 pm Reply

      Ahhh that is beautiful, Ann!

  9. Timothy ward  February 10, 2015 at 4:46 am Reply

    What I dis this year for my first Christmas without my mom was to order Christmas cards online with pictures of my mother that said Merry Christmas Love Tim in memory of my mother

  10. Tracy Roach  January 15, 2015 at 11:48 pm Reply

    My uncle passed away just after Christmas 2013, so this was my aunt’s first Christmas without him. I asked my cousin (her daughter) to get me one of his shirts, and I turned it into a pillow cover, a wreath and a flower accent on a handmade necklace for my aunt. She really appreciated them all, and she sleeps with the pillow on her bed.

  11. z  December 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm Reply

    P.S. to the above: I do not even remember this woman’s name all these years later. but I remember her kindness and the fact that she went out of her way to be there for me one day.

  12. z  December 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm Reply

    This is a lovely article with really good ideas. I like all of the suggestions for physical gifts, and think that any one of them would be a meaningful thing to receive, and I also agree that just spending time with someone would be a good alternative. After my father died years ago, a person I didn’t even know well at all showed up at my house dressed festively for the season, with bright red christmas ball earrings, and took me out to coffee. At first I was actually slightly offended that she would show up looking so festive when I was in grief, but her genuine cheerfulness combined with her sincere compassion and the willingness to listen to me talk actually cheered me up when I did not think it was possible.

  13. Felicia  December 5, 2014 at 9:56 am Reply

    Last year was my first Christmas without my husband. I bought “Dad and Me” frames for each of my boys aged 21, 19 and 15 and placed a picture of each child with their father in the frames and gave it to each boy for a Christmas present. They have them proudly displayed in their rooms and the two older boys even took their’s to college with them. I wish I could think of something for this year…

    • Keem  December 3, 2016 at 10:36 am Reply

      Felicia, boys are harder, aren’t they? A leather cuff with engraved plate of dad’s motto, keychain with handwriting, necklace with dad’s thumbprint, money clip with advice dad would say. I had a twin size quilt made for my son from his sisters shirts and also made a simple matching pillowcase, much easier and he uses it every night! My husband had a beautiful photo blanket made for me and that is another item that can be used or displayed every day!

  14. Tricia  December 5, 2014 at 12:17 am Reply

    consider if they might like help doing some decorating. Some grieving people really want their beloved holiday mementos around them, but they dont want to be alone when they get them out. There is nothing festive about loneliness. If you are there to hear the stories those items invoke, it could be a very therapeutic activity for them.

  15. Abbie  December 4, 2014 at 10:55 pm Reply

    A lovely gift that isn’t a physical object is to spend time with the person who has lost. Not necessarily inviting them to be part of your holiday festivities (although for some that’s good), but just making sure to make time to reach out and spend an afternoon or even just an hour together. I’ve noticed that people start to forget the uncomfortable relationships (like a friendship with someone who is grieving) when their days are filled with busyness. Being mindful and showing your love is the best gift of all.

  16. D. Johnson  December 4, 2014 at 3:25 pm Reply

    Great ideas and very timely.

  17. Kate  December 4, 2014 at 10:20 am Reply

    What a great list! Thank you! Also, the e-book, Letters to Grief, is available for FREE on Amazon Kindle through December 5th, and $0.99 thereafter. Here is the link, for anyone who is interested: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QG5YD6U

    • Beth Marshall  December 1, 2016 at 9:38 pm Reply

      Congrats on the first podcast, Eleanor & Litsa- loved… so practical & encouraging!

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