A Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Grievers

Whether you are shopping as a griever or for a griever (or both!), shopping at the holidays can be tough.  You are surrounded by all those happy people at the mall, struggling to find the motivation to shop, 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 have a quick holiday gift giving guide for grievers.  This is just 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!

Memorial Jewelry – 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 below are some great examples of memorial jewelry you can purchase online.

handwritting memorial pendant
memorial necklace
memorial necklace 2

Photographs – 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 is always a great option for getting frames engraved (or almost anything else engraved, including memorial candles, memory boxes, jewelry, etc).  A google search will also bring up a ton of memorial frame options.

Memorial Ornaments– decorating at the holidays can be tough, especially in the first couple years after a loss. Giving someone an ornament in memory of their loved one can bring the memory of their loved one into the holiday and can become a holiday tradition, giving a new ornament each year.  It could be an engraved ornament, it could be one with a photograph, it could 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.  Also, Hallmark puts out an annual memorial ornament (this year’s is the second ornament below).
sympathy gift ornament

sympathy gift ornament 3

sympathy gift ornament 4

Items that belonged to your loved one – Parting with a loved ones belongings can be difficult, which we have written about in the past. If you are responsible for the belongings of someone who died, one thing you can do is give select, 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 – 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.
recipes 4

Tammy Bears – No, that is not a typo! A Tammy Bear is a bear made out of an article of clothing.  If you visit the Tammy Bear website you can order a custom bear made from whatever piece of clothing you wish.  This is a meaningful way to do something with your loved one’s clothing, while also giving a meaningful gift.  I am sure that if you are more crafty than I am you could probably make a bear like this yourself.
tammy bear 3

 Quilts – Like a Tammy Bear, you can make quilts out of someone’s clothing. Check out some amazing examples of memorial quilts here. This takes more resources, but can be a very meaningful gift.  This is an item you can have made or make yourself.
memorial quilt collage

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.  A gift certificate for a message or other spa treatment can encourage a griever to take care of themselves

Holiday Cards– for the first time this year WYG is offering holiday cards.  Proceeds help fund our free grief support, and the cards are also a nice way to remember those you love and miss!  They can be purchased here in our store.

Memory Boxes – a memory or memorial box is a classic grief gift.  There are many online, ranging dramatically in size and style.  A small memory box that I personally like is below.  A google search will bring you plenty of other options!

memory boxThings 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 is a painful reminder they are gone.  Consider that you can still buy those items and give them to someone else who would love them too (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.

TO DO LIST: 1 )  Leave a comment with your ideas for grief gifts.  2) Check out our very first podcast on coping with grief during the holidays – grief support for those who like to listen!  3) Subscribe to get all our posts right to your inbox! 


March 28, 2017

14 responses on "A Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Grievers"

  1. 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.

  2. 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.!

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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…

    • 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Great ideas and very timely.

  11. 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: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QG5YD6U

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