What to Send to a Funeral Instead of Flowers

Supporting a Griever / Supporting a Griever : Litsa Williams

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Sending flowers to a funeral is a customary--I'm not here to knock it. I know that sometimes flowers are the perfect gesture after a death. But when my dad died, there were more flower arrangements at the funeral home than we could count. 

We were overwhelmed by the support of friends and family that those flowers represented. But i'll be honest, it would also have been nice if these gestures were in the form of something that wouldn't also die in a matter of a few days. But what to send to a funeral, if not flowers? That is the question.

With my personal aversion to giving flowers after a loss, I've started an informal collection of ideas for alternatives to send to a funeral to show you care. This is just a start, so if you have other ideas of what to send to a funeral instead of flowers please leave a comment.  We want as comprehensive a list as possible.

Check for an “in lieu of flower”

Sometimes families have already told you what you can do. Check the obituary, funeral home website, or call the funeral home to ask if the family has offered an “in lieu of flowers” suggestion.

Tree or Shrub and Memorial Stonememorial stone

Though this post may not sound like it, I am actually a plant lover! A tree or shrub the family can plant in memory of their loved one is a nice lasting memorial.

Consider whether the family has a space for a tree or shrub and pick one that you feel would make a nice memorial.  There are many beautiful memorial stones you can find here on the With Sympathy Gifts website.  Even if a tree may be too much, these garden stones are a nice gift on their own.


An Unconventional Sympathy card, Handwritten note, or Trinket:

If you're like me, you like the idea of sending a card or a note, but you don't want to send the same old generic Hallmark card.  First things first, handwritten notes from scratch are often the most thoughtful. If you're not sure what to say, check out our post, How to Write a Sympathy Card.

However, if you aren't much with words, there are companies out there with relatable card options. You also might want to check out Emily McDowell Studios card collection.

Photos the Family Doesn’t Have

Many times as a friend or extended family member you may have photos that the immediate family does not have. If this is the case, could you put together a memorial album or CD of photos the family doesn’t have of their loved one?  As the weeks and months pass they will likely be glad to have as many pictures as possible.

A Self-Care Gift

One of the most difficult things for people when they are dealing with the death of a family member is taking care of themselves.  Giving someone a gift such as a gift certificate for a massage, manicure, or even a private yoga class (some instructors will come to your home) is a nice gesture that may help them take time for themselves.

A self-care basket could also be nice if you don’t think they will be up for going out (think nice pajamas, bath items, a candle, a magazine, DVD etc).  Take the person who has experienced the loss into account when deciding what to do – if they love movies or baseball, tickets to a game or a movie gift card may be more appropriate.

We love these "Here for You" Self-Care grief packages that are ready to go and even come with your choice of cute sympathy card.  We also love that they support WYG if you find them from here!


A Grief Book

A book is a wonderful and practical supportive gift, showing that you know there is a painful healing process ahead. The difficult thing about grief books is that they are often too dense and overwhelming for people to digest in early grief, when it can be so hard to concentrate.

What's Your Grief: Lists to Help You Though Any Loss is a book written wth the short-attention-span and diverse needs of early grievers in mind. It is a book that doesn't need to be read cover to cover, allowing grievers to pick and choose the parts most relevant to their loss experience. Written by grief counselors who themselves have lived through devastating losses, it is a great alternative to flowers to help the person you care about to feel seen while receiving practical grief support.

What's Your Grief book

What's Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss it at the following retailers or your local independent bookstore:

A Dedication or Donation

Consider a dedication or donation that will reflect the life of that person or your relationship with them.  The options for this are endless. If this is a friend from high school or college, make a memorial donation to that institution.  Perhaps they were involved in a church or community organization. Call to see if donations or dedications can be made. 

If the individual had any interest, from sports to art to animals and anything in between, check for non-profits. You would be surprised how many wonderful non-profits are connected to all sorts of interests and hobbies.  Most places will send an acknowledgment to the family that a donation was made in memory. Just make sure to ask and provide the family member’s address.


A Memorial Guestbook

memorial guestbook

This is not just any guestbook!  The Guestbook Store sells a customized memorial guestbook where those who attend a memorial service can sign not just their name, but also share a memory of the person and a special message to the family.

The service is often a blur for families, so having this book will allow guest to share memories and messages that the family will be able to look back on later.  Click here to check out their memorial book!

Vacation Time

If your co-worker has lost someone and you are looking for an alternative to flowers, perhaps you could donate a day of leave. Most companies only offer a couple of days of bereavement time and, if their loss was not immediate family, they may receive no leave time at all.

Donating a day can mean the difference between someone having to return to work the day after a funeral versus having a day or two to rest before returning to work. Check with your HR department to see if your company allows this and what the process is.


Something For the Kids

One of the first questions people will ask after a loss is how the children who were affected are doing. And yet, people rarely think to send or give items to the kids.  Children often feel forgotten with all the attention around the death and the funeral.  Any small gift can remind them that you are thinking of them.

Think of the age and interest of the children. A stuffed animal (to cuddle with for comfort), a journal (to express feelings), coloring books, activity books, movies, or video games (to occupy themselves when everyone else is busy) are all easy suggestions that will let a child know you haven’t forgotten them.

House Cleaning

When a loved one is ill or dies, housework (understandably) gets put on the back burner. Realistically, that often continues for weeks or months as a person grieves.  Immediately following a loss, friends and family often stop by the house and, for some, it can be a big source of stress if the house hasn’t been cleaned up.

A gift certificate to a cleaning service can be a relief to the family.  You could offer to clean their home, but keep in mind that many people are self-conscious about their mess and would rather have a stranger do this than a friend. So a gift certificate (with an offer to handle scheduling if they need that) is a great option.

Lawn Care Service

Similar to the above suggestion, many times the person who has died was the person who mowed the lawn or took care of other outside needs.  Even if this is not the case, taking care of those things can be an unnecessary stressor for the family.  A gift certificate to a lawn care service is a thoughtful and useful gesture. Even better, throw in an offer to call and get it scheduled for them!


Book of Letters

One gesture we've found incredibly meaningful is organizing friends to compile a book of letters. This is common when there are young children impacted by the loss. Friends can write letters to the children about their parent, grandparent, or another family member. However, children aren't the only ones who can benefit from this gesture. For example, a book of letters to a parent about their adult child can be extremely meaningful. There are often many things their child has done and the lives they have touched that the parents are unaware of.

This type of book is minimal in cost (all you need is a nice binder and possibly some page protectors, or a bound book that each person writes directly in). What it does require is a lot of effort and coordination in contacting friends and gathering the letters.  This is a gesture many families will appreciate for years to come.



Food is a common gift to send instead of flowers (or in addition to flowers). We suggest it, but with caution! This probably requires its own post. For now I will just say be thoughtful about how, when, and what you bring if you decide on food.

After experiencing a death, families are often overwhelmed with food.  In a few weeks after the death, a gift of food will probably be much more appreciated. That's when the casseroles they can barely fit in the freezer have stopped rolling in.

A nice basket of non-perishable foods can be nice, especially snacks they can offer to people who stop by unexpectedly.  A good standby if you really want to stick with food may be a gift card to a local restaurant or carry out.  Another nice offer would be to grab their grocery list and go shopping for them.

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Practical Household Goods (packaged in a cute box!)

After a loss, you may find friends and family stopping by the house. And even if you don't, the thought of doing dishes can fill you with such dread that a mountain of dishes might appear overnight. Here For You also has great boxes of household items a grieving person will often not have the time or energy to stock up on after a loss. They are all packaged in a beautiful box with your choice of sympathy card, to boot. We love thoughtful, creative, and useful, so this ticks all the boxes. We love it and we also love that they support WYG if you find them here.

Flowers or Plants

If you decide flowers are the right thing for you to send, you can make this more thoughtful than a standard arrangement.  First, think about the person who died. Is there a plant, flower, or color that reminds you of that person for any reason?  If so, that may be a nice choice.  If not, decide if you want to send flowers or a plant.  The plant is something the family can keep, though not all families will want or appreciate that.

Also, consider whether there is a flower you have found particularly comforting.  When we lost my dad someone sent an arrangement of white irises.  It was so beautiful and, for whatever reason, I found it so comforting.  Though I rarely send flowers after a death, when I do I always send white irises.

Buy yourself a gift:

If you are looking for concrete, helpful ideas for being a good friend to a griever, don't miss our ebook: Guide to Supporting a Griever (without sticking your foot in your mouth). Don’t worry, it is cheap and jam-packed with helpful info (no angels, rainbows, inspirational quotes, or fluff — just helpful tips).

These are just a few things you can send to a funeral instead of flowers.  If you are looking for ways to support someone after a death, check out our post How to Support a Grieving Family Member or Friend.  


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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130 Comments on "What to Send to a Funeral Instead of Flowers"

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  1. Cindy  February 5, 2024 at 7:16 pm Reply

    My dad just passed away. He was an avid gardener amongst other things. I’d like to take a tomato plant to his funeral and put it next to him and then take it home with me. Is that stupid?

    • Denise Lara Mangalino  February 7, 2024 at 2:46 pm Reply

      Hi Cindy, I think it’s brilliant to bring a tomato plant for your father’s funeral and to take it back with you.

  2. Hailey Melnick  December 12, 2023 at 4:20 pm Reply

    I appreciate that you mentioned how people with deceased family members often find it hard to look after themselves. I saw this firsthand with my friend after receiving the news that her sister passed away last week. I just hope that they’ll be able to find a good funeral home for cremation services and hold a memorial service that will help them celebrate their good memories on Earth.

  3. Mike Jeffirs  July 13, 2023 at 2:59 am Reply

    Thank you for providing such a comprehensive list of alternatives to sending flowers to a funeral. Your suggestions are thoughtful and practical, offering a variety of options that can provide comfort and support to grieving individuals and families. It’s important to consider the preferences and needs of the bereaved, and your article does an excellent job of highlighting various ways to show care and remembrance beyond traditional floral arrangements.

  4. Jeri Gross  February 9, 2023 at 10:06 pm Reply

    My husband makes custom night lights. He can put any picture on them. Friends of the deceased orders them with the picture of the deceased person on it. So many families love them.

  5. Kathy  July 28, 2022 at 5:34 pm Reply

    We, too, received so much food after losing our parents. Flowers are beatiful but go so quickly. We started taking our friends or family out to dinner within a month of their loved ones’ passing. It gives them a chance to talk of their memories and we can listen to any grief they might have. It is hard to have much time with them at the funeral home viewings. It has been much appreciated..

  6. Lynn  May 25, 2022 at 11:45 pm Reply

    Ever since my son passed away, I have given lots of thought to this very subject.
    I give immediate family of the deceased, be it spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings a handmade angel.
    I have had many people contact me and tell me just how much that angel ment to them.

  7. Kathryn Hites  May 21, 2022 at 4:28 pm Reply

    When my mother and father-in-law came to visit, he always had gum in his pocket and give all of the kids (9) a piece of gum. When he died, I gave each child a piece of gum and they, one by one, put their piece of gun in the breast pocket of his jacket. It was so meaningful to them, because they go to give back what he had given them. A lot of LOVE. My four girls were his step-granddaughters, but he loved them the same.

  8. Clare  May 1, 2022 at 8:09 am Reply

    My husband recently passed away. One friend gave me a bag of goodies such as a colouring book and jigsaw puzzle – really good gifts to distract me. Also I received a pre paid Visa card which was a great idea because of stopped bank accounts. A notebook and pens were also welcome for all the things I needed to keep track of.

  9. Kathy  April 5, 2022 at 2:29 pm Reply

    At my father’s funeral, us girls (we have no brothers) where given one of our fathers hankies..it meant so much, drying tears on my daddy’s Hankee..one of the most thoughtful gifts..

  10. Tiffany C.  January 6, 2022 at 12:32 pm Reply

    When my grandmother passed away this year a thoughtful friend sent a book of stamps in her sympathy card. Truly amazing since we had so many thank yous to send and didn’t have to make time for a trip to the post office!

    • Kathy  April 5, 2022 at 2:30 pm Reply

      Amazing idea

    • Marcia  May 7, 2022 at 9:59 pm Reply

      My mom died 26 years ago and we received a couple books of stamps . That was the first time I had seen it and we have continued giving them ever since. We really appreciated it also!

  11. Shevi Berman  November 21, 2021 at 11:31 am Reply

    In Jewish tradition a memorial candle is lit in memory of the deceased on the anniversary of death as well as some Jewish holidays.
    This is called a Yahrzeit candle. After the passing of my mother I created a candle holder from fused glass to enhance this tradition. Many people now purchase them as sympathy gifts for their Jewish friends or family. It is a very meaningful gift.
    Here is a link:


  12. Shammy Peterson  November 3, 2021 at 1:42 am Reply

    I like that you said that you must consider the person who died in order to find gifts that would remind you of the person. This is something that I will consider because my best friend’s mother passed away due to an accident. Maybe, I could consider finding a solar angel statue that could best express my sympathy.

  13. Patricia Guthan  October 4, 2021 at 8:54 pm Reply

    When our neighbor lost her husband I offered to watch her home while they were at the funeral. This is a time of home break-ins. While they were gone a van pulled into the driveway and a man came to the back door carrying a bunch of flowers. When I answered the door he just handed me the flowers and said nothing. When my neighbor came home and looked at the flowers, she didn’t know the name that was attached. Just an idea to help a friend.

    • Kathy  April 5, 2022 at 2:32 pm Reply

      I’ve done that before and had people still bringing food and flowers to their house during the funeral..

  14. D  August 2, 2021 at 12:36 am Reply

    Knowing there will be many thank you notes to be sent following the funeral, or celebration of life, I always include a booklet or two (or more) of postage stamps tucked inside my sympathy card to the family. … A reminder: Please include your own mailing address on all correspondence, and memorial gifts. Also, a brief explanation as to how you knew the dearly departed. When condolence cards arrived after my parents’ deaths, I had no idea as to their previous co-workers’ and fellow organization members’ , club memberships, coffee shop friends’ , etc. addresses. Some far away. Very stressful trying to locate info!

  15. Patti  June 25, 2021 at 12:50 pm Reply

    As we all know, the hurting never stops. After the barrage of people, during the mourning period, the visitation, the funeral and the burial, the gathering afterward, the phone calls, texts, emails, tasks, etc.- after everyone has left, you are left by yourself with nothing but heartache. That goes on forever- just as love does.
    Life goes on as well, and with it comes all those holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and memories of special times. Many families have ‘traditions’ that may involve the loved one they’ve just lost.
    I think it’s important to show ongoing love & support to those left behind- especially throughout the year when they are left alone with their thoughts, and they aren’t numb, exhausted, and in shock like they are around the time of the funeral. These times that follow can be excruciatingly hard. If you know the family well, chances are that you will be familiar with some of their traditions, so I have chosen to make that the focus in another option to consider.
    Here’s just one example (out of thousands of possibilities):
    A friend & her mom had a Christmas tradition. Every year her mom would give her & her husband a box of their ‘favourite things- Gingersnap cookies, 2 Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, and a bottle of Bailey’s.
    She was INCREDIBLY CLOSE to her mom, & after her mom died she was talking about how the first Christmas without her would be so hard, and that every year her mom had given them those items in a little gift basket.
    It was summer, so I tucked that info away in my brain for later use.
    I’m not a close friend by any means- but my mom & her’s were best friends, and we knew each other & had hung out with mutual friends as well.
    At Christmas, I wrapped all of things up, tied an Angel ornament on, and put it on their porch in the middle of the night. (I’ve since had to tell one other person who lives in the same town as her because I live two hours away and I didn’t want to leave anything that would freeze outside when we get those -30C nights! She delivers it to her, but she had sworn to secrecy because I want to remain anonymous (I didn’t even tell my mom), so my friend has NO Idea who it is (and she wouldn’t make the connection between myself and the deliverer.) Every year I send the same thing and tie a different Angel ornament on. Every year she posts pictures of her & her husband with the gifts and Angel ornament and says: Christmas Angel…I don’t know who you are…but thank you❤️❤️❤️It means so much. It warms my heart to know I’ve made her smile- because she KNOWS there are people who love her and even more importantly, love & remember her mom. ❤️❤️❤️
    So, no matter what the holiday or special day, if you know of any family traditions you might be able to carry on- either knowingly or anonymously- it’s a special way to show someone that you know how much they miss that person , that you understand their hurt, and that you care!❤️
    I promise you…the feeling that you get when you know (and can sometime see in pictures) how it brings such immense joy to people and how you have made that sad day just a little bit brighter for them, well, there’s just no better feeling in the world. ❤️Patti

  16. Ernestine  June 21, 2021 at 2:48 pm Reply

    We just lost someone special. I didn’t want to send flowers, because they can be really expensive and in my opinion such a waste. Therefore, I sent a package of Omaha Steaks and the recipients was thrilled….

  17. Debi  March 29, 2021 at 6:20 pm Reply

    When my 99 year old mother-in-law died, we took the flowers to people that were special to her.. The neighbor that cut her grass, her friend that she walked with, her caregiver at the assisted living home she was in, etc. Part of what made it special was we thanked them for being so faithful and how much Grandma and us appreciated all their help thru the years.

  18. Cat  March 27, 2021 at 10:46 pm Reply

    I love some of your ideas but to be perfectly honest, I was given a shrub when my father died. I hated it!!! It was nothing but a reminder of my father’s death, not his life. Years later when it died, I was finally able to pull it out of the ground, and that terrible gift was thrown out. Please be kind, not everyone wants plants or trees that live on. Sometimes, cut flowers are good enough, but I guess to each their own.

  19. Cathy  March 13, 2021 at 10:17 am Reply

    I sent wind chimes to two of my friends. They were tuned to to the notes in Amazing Grace, and they were not terribly expensive. Both recipients called me crying they loved them so much.
    The company was a pleasure to deal with also.

    . https://www.chimetime.com/product/woodstock-amazing-grace-chime-large.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=1881759747&utm_content=72944786554&utm_term=&utm_product=AGLS&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIl_izrcet7wIVc_zjBx1CBw0fEAQYAiABEgI7IvD_BwE

  20. Dolores McNeary  January 15, 2021 at 5:42 pm Reply

    After the death of my mother a friend sent me a “bouquet” of flowers in the form of postage stamps with flowers on them. So thoughtful, since everyone needs postage stamps and they can be used to send out thank you cards.

  21. Zoe Campos  December 7, 2020 at 4:40 am Reply

    I’m glad that you mentioned how people with deceased family members often find it hard to look after themselves. I witnessed this firsthand with my friend after receiving the news that her father passed away last week. I just hope that they’ll be able to find a good funeral home and hold a memorial service that will help them celebrate their good memories on Earth.


  22. Trudy  November 10, 2020 at 5:26 am Reply

    A family game for kids & parents to play together. Paints for kids to express themselves.

    I got my niece & nephew the Willow Tree figurines of a father with a daughter & a father with a son when their dad passed.

    Someone brought me a bag of chocolate candy when my dad passed.

    Mints & chapstick.

  23. Flower  October 29, 2020 at 8:33 am Reply

    If flowers look expensive you can always write to the company offering them for a specific price suggestion.

  24. Patricia  September 26, 2020 at 7:12 am Reply

    I don’t send flowers anymore. They are very expensive and end up dying not soon after you buy them. They are beautiful but just too much. I’ve been sending Edible arrangements, and they work out just great ! They’re healthy food and flowers all in one !!!

    • Kathy  April 5, 2022 at 2:35 pm Reply

      When my brother-in-law passed suddenly from a stroke, my sister had so many flowers to give away, but there was a lot of bugs in flowers, I don’t do flowers anymore either..

  25. Linda  August 17, 2020 at 12:19 pm Reply

    Fantastic ideas. Thank you.

  26. Katherine Low  November 17, 2019 at 5:52 pm Reply

    Years ago when our 24-year-old son died, people did some wonderful things for us. We had a huge houseful of people with our own family and the family of my daughter-in-law staying here. People brought lots of food. A friend volunteered to come over each day and organize the food into things we would be eating or serving, and things to go into storage. Some went in the freezer, but we were grateful for the thoughtfulness as well as the food.
    My two daughters’ terrific group of friends came while we were at the funeral home and washed towels, cleaned the bathrooms, cleared the fridge and vacuumed.
    Two other of their friends came and offered to put together a memorial slideshow if we would go through the albums for pictures for them.
    Instead of flowers, this wonderful group made a collection amongst themselves and gave our daughters (who both live out of town) gas cards so they could travel home more often.
    Friends from our congregation took over the management and preparation of a meal following the funeral for family and close friends. One of them made centerpieces for each of the tables.
    A couple of my friends came and collected an array of items that had belonged to our son to make a hallway display table presentation at the funeral, representing his life and interests.
    His former scout leader had gone through all his pictures of scouting activities and brought us those pictures including our son.
    Strangers read his obituary and wrote us sweet notes.
    Acquaintances wrote notes sharing experiences of losing a child and sharing some of their coping strategies. One of those pieces of wisdom was, “It never gets better. But it does get farther away.” 11 years later, and I still think of that so often.
    It was a terrible time for us all, but really showed us how the thoughtfulness, kindness and compassion of others can lighten the burden you carry at that time.

    • Stacy Vigil  May 6, 2022 at 11:37 am Reply

      I am sorry for the loss of your Son. I said a prayer for your family.
      I just wanted to thank you for telling us about the thoughtful things everyone did for you during your time of grief. What a blessing it is to have people who care and show up for you when you need them.
      I appreciate you sharing this with us. It has helped me and inspired me in so many ways.
      Thank you and may God bless you and yours.

  27. Gayle Metcalf  September 14, 2019 at 12:56 pm Reply

    When our son died we received bags of paper goods, paper plates, cups, napkins, Kleenex, toilet paper, paper towels. They came in very handy as you can imagine.

  28. Aletha Vande Griend  July 19, 2019 at 2:45 am Reply

    When my husband died many people brought food and drink but we also received paper plates, napkins, disposable cups, paper towels and toilet paper. With all the people coming and going through the house and family staying with me and no time to run to the store those items were a godsend.

  29. Sandy  July 18, 2019 at 11:40 am Reply

    Quite often I will bake 2 different kinds of cookies to take to the home of the deceased. Just a dozen or so of each kind. Then, I use either disposable plates covered with zip lock bags. Or, a pretty vintage plate that they can keep as a keepsake. Sometimes just a cookie with coffee, tea or soft drink goes over well when a person does not feel like a full meal.

  30. catherine  July 5, 2019 at 8:08 am Reply

    I have purchased “seed cards” and sent them as Condolence cards. The family can plant the card and it will bloom into tiny forget-me-not’s flowers.
    Or I have sent these on the anniversary of a loved ones death.

  31. Maria Logan  June 10, 2019 at 10:32 am Reply

    One of our friends from a neighborhood girls bunco, lost a loved one. We purchased a Landscape Nursery Gift Card to plant a tree in their honor.

  32. Catherine  May 29, 2019 at 5:55 pm Reply

    What a wonderful post on this website, thank you, so so thoughtful.

  33. Monni Musik  May 22, 2019 at 2:12 pm Reply

    My cousin was 7 months pregnant when she miscarried, She was devastated to say the least. A Group of women that she worked with got together and named a star after the baby. My Aunt told me that my Cousin founds comfort going out every evening and finding her star and telling her how much she misses her and says goodnight. http://www.starregisrty.com

  34. pat  April 28, 2019 at 11:43 pm Reply

    When my grandson lost his grandfather a friend gave him an attractive sturdy box and called it the Grandpa box. In it our grandson kept things that reminded him of Grandpa–photos of them together of course, his knife, his watch, a pack of gum he liked, his eyeglasses, a favorite T shirt, etc. As the years have gone by I often see him looking in it and spending some time with Grandpa and keeping his memory fresh.

  35. Kim  March 29, 2019 at 11:05 pm Reply

    These are all great ideas. When my dad passed away 10 years ago, I helped my mom write the thank you cards. We went through a roll and a half of stamps. Ever since I have given a book or two of stamps in with the sympathy card. We had plenty of stamps for our cards because we had gone to the post office before we started and because Mom always had a good supply on hand. But, I know most people don’t keep a large quantity of stamps on hand. It just seems to make a big difference and people always seem to appreciate them and the idea that it’s one less thing they have to go out and buy.

  36. Samantha Jones  March 26, 2019 at 12:38 pm Reply

    This company has become my “go to” for me as my sympathy gift for friends and family grieving. Everyone I have sent these memory frames to have LOVED them! I have even had the company put a custom saying on one for me and they were great to work with. https://www.shopmemoryscapes.com/collections/sympathy-loss

  37. Marcia  March 19, 2019 at 4:38 pm Reply

    Several years ago we lost my nephew & my brother’s family was overwhelmed with all of the food – to the level that they have not purchased ham since. After that I began taking assortments of toilet tissue, facial tissues, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, trash bags, paper plates, disposable cups, plastic ware, zip seal food bags, & stamps with a single plate of a dozen cookies, brownies or cheese/crackers. The non-food products are always useable & the small plate of goodies provide just a small bite at a time when most are not looking to fix themselves a plate of food.

  38. Kathie Lund  March 10, 2019 at 1:19 pm Reply

    My husband and I like to give a gift of service to the family. By this I mean on the day of the funeral, we go to the family’s home before the service in order to receive any food deliveries and to set up for the family when they come back from he service. We also remain to clean up.

  39. Val Gibbs  March 4, 2019 at 8:13 pm Reply

    This is a very good article. We sent live plants to my sisters graveside service. My niece said that the plants should stay at the gravesite. We spent $140.00 on the plants! We eventually let it go. Yes the money is gone but and it was the families wishes to let the plants stay at the cemetary.

  40. ROBIN CADLE  March 1, 2019 at 10:27 pm Reply

    I always send several books of stamps in the condolence card to say a trip to the post office.

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  42. Emily Patrick  January 5, 2019 at 12:29 pm Reply

    When my nephew passed from a brain tumor, we with friends built/ planted a memorial seasonal garden at his parents home with a bench, bird bath, with fountain, where they could sit and reflect. Its beautiful to see the rebirth yearly of new color.

  43. Marilyn  October 21, 2018 at 1:15 am Reply

    When our son passed a dear friend came over before the funeral and took our cars to be washed and filled with gas…such a thoughtful gesture ..something that was needed but that we would have overlooked in our grieving and making all the arrangements.

  44. Sarah  August 28, 2018 at 9:25 pm Reply

    I just lost my mother a few weeks ago and I had family and friends that wanted to send flowers, so I requested them to be silk arrangements , this way i could leave a new arrangement at the gravesite every month for my mother to enjoy. This also really helps our family with the cost of not having to go every few months and buying them.

  45. Fran  August 20, 2018 at 4:04 pm Reply

    When my mother passed, my sister in law took most of the flowers home and dried them. She put the dried flowers into cellophane bags and distributed them to our family to use as potpourri.

    My cousin took pictures of all the floral tributes at my husband’s funeral…really appreciated as I had no idea what had been sent.

    When my dad passed (USMC veteran) we didn’t realize there wouldn’t be service members at the funeral to do the flag ceremony. Instead, there was a recording of Taps and 2 men from the funeral home staff folded his flag very sloppily. This really bothered us kids as he taught us to fold a flag properly…if we’d known this ahead of time we would have done it ourselves.

    My brother made a wooden box to hold our parents’ ashes. Regarding urns…When my husband passed I selected their plain black plastic box (cost was an issue it was $45). He was a Mason and one of his friends put a Masonic emblem on the box.

    • Fran  March 11, 2022 at 6:53 pm Reply

      After making the comment about my Dad’s funeral flag, I later found out that a deceased veteran is entitled to have uniformed members of his branch of service doing the military honors. The funeral home folks should alert the proper authorities as a matter of course. Contacting the recruitment office for that branch of service can put the funeral director in touch with the proper authorities. A veteran and their spouse can be buried or placed in a niche at a Federal Veteran’s cemetery. There is no charge for the veteran and only a nominal fee for the spouse. This is also true for my state’s veteran cemetery. The monument or niche cover will be engraved and installed at no extra charge. The local American Legion post is also a good resource.

      Also, when my dad died, a friend offered to take me to the funeral home to deliver my Dad’s clothes.

  46. K  August 20, 2018 at 2:08 am Reply

    When my nephew died, we were overwhelmed with food donations and visitors. One of the family friends brought a bag filled with paper plates, plastic silverware, napkins, paper towels and toilet paper. Not your usual idea, but it was so helpful so we weren’t constantly doing dishes or having to go to the store. It was a great idea and usually not one considered.

    • Kellyn  December 28, 2018 at 9:09 pm Reply

      I’m so glad to hear that this type of gift was positive for you – after my sister died unexpectedly last summer, my husband and I started a business doing just this (sending household essentials to people experiencing a crisis or difficult life transition).

      It was born from the fact that we had enough lasagna to feed 50 people and houseplants/flowers coming out of our ears, but had to go to the story every day in the first week after her death for household essentials. It is always amazing when people are being thoughtful and expressing their sympathy, but we hope to remove the disconnect between traditional gifts (flowers, fruit baskets, Edible Arrangements) and what people actually need.


      • Pam Dake  April 2, 2019 at 3:26 am

        Dear Kellyn, The idea of starting this type of service resonated with me immediately. I live inTulsa, Oklahoma, and would very much appreciate it if you would be willing to communicate with me about your experiences. My email address istulsa2stlouis@gmail.com
        Blessings to you!
        Pam Dake

  47. Anne  July 11, 2018 at 11:33 am Reply

    This is not an “in lieu of flowers” suggestion, but something to consider if you want to bring food. The first meal after the death of a loved one is the hardest for the family. When my father died before daylight one morning, I called the office to report that I would not be in that day due to his death. Before noon that day, my office had sent an entire meal (entree, salad, bread, desert!). It was a wonderful idea as the family was too tired to think about fixing the lunch, too busy getting things together (clothes for the deceased), contacting out of town family, etc. If you want to bring food, consider bringing that first meal. We were starved as none of us had breakfast–no one felt like eating until everything was in order and the body was removed. You would be surprised how long that took! In any case, food is a wonderful idea, but consider doing it sooner rather than later. The family needs food for that first day–not just the day of the funeral.

  48. Lorraine  April 19, 2018 at 8:30 pm Reply

    When my husband died the front of our church was filled with a double row of floral arrangements and plants. I loved everyone of them. I felt that the senders wanted to remember him with that beauty. Many people made a living off the steps that went into growing and preparing them for us. Yes, they died in few days but they helped me and my family get through one of the saddest times of my life. Please don’t be afraid to send flowers what ever the occasion.

  49. Lorraine  April 19, 2018 at 8:30 pm Reply

    When my husband died the front of our church was filled with a double row of floral arrangements and plants. I loved everyone of them. I felt that the senders wanted to remember him with that beauty. Many people made a living off the steps that went into growing and preparing them for us. Yes, they died in few days but they helped me and my family get through one of the saddest times of my life. Please don’t be afraid to send flowers what ever the occasion.

  50. theresa hewitt  March 10, 2018 at 9:56 pm Reply

    When I know that more than enough flowers will be sent, I send or give a card with sheets of stamps. After family and friends leave the task of thank you cards begin. Who feels like running to the post office and spending lots of money for stamps? I have been told personally that this was a thoughtful and appreciated gesture. When I know lots of little ones will be gathering for services and staying with family, I take over small assorted cereals, (children love the choices) milk, juice, coffee and donuts for breakfast.

  51. theresa hewitt  March 10, 2018 at 9:56 pm Reply

    When I know that more than enough flowers will be sent, I send or give a card with sheets of stamps. After family and friends leave the task of thank you cards begin. Who feels like running to the post office and spending lots of money for stamps? I have been told personally that this was a thoughtful and appreciated gesture. When I know lots of little ones will be gathering for services and staying with family, I take over small assorted cereals, (children love the choices) milk, juice, coffee and donuts for breakfast.

  52. Stascy  February 28, 2018 at 12:05 am Reply

    Although your suggestions sound like they are the more sensible choices, have you ever been to a funeral with very few flowers? Frankly, I find it depressing….. and I am a little embarrassed for the family. Flowers and plants are meant to comfort at the FUNERAL. The time where they are wrapping their head around the fact that never again will they see their loved one. It’s a visual reminder while sitting in the service that so many people care. It’s all good to do something for someone, but shouldn’t that be over and above sending flowers to the funeral? At one funeral I attended, the only flowers were the ones I sent and one other plant. The family came to me and told me how much they appreciated the flowers. Others did do some of the other things you suggested, but it sure didn’t bring much comfort to the family at the funeral. Churches and nursing homes appreciate the flowers if the family receives too many. Flowers at funerals are a long standing tradition. I feel we are chipping away at so many traditions, there will be none left. I vote, hands down, for flowers. At least they can also be composted…and wind chimes, angels, and other “Gifts” cannot.

  53. Stascy  February 28, 2018 at 12:05 am Reply

    Although your suggestions sound like they are the more sensible choices, have you ever been to a funeral with very few flowers? Frankly, I find it depressing….. and I am a little embarrassed for the family. Flowers and plants are meant to comfort at the FUNERAL. The time where they are wrapping their head around the fact that never again will they see their loved one. It’s a visual reminder while sitting in the service that so many people care. It’s all good to do something for someone, but shouldn’t that be over and above sending flowers to the funeral? At one funeral I attended, the only flowers were the ones I sent and one other plant. The family came to me and told me how much they appreciated the flowers. Others did do some of the other things you suggested, but it sure didn’t bring much comfort to the family at the funeral. Churches and nursing homes appreciate the flowers if the family receives too many. Flowers at funerals are a long standing tradition. I feel we are chipping away at so many traditions, there will be none left. I vote, hands down, for flowers. At least they can also be composted…and wind chimes, angels, and other “Gifts” cannot.

    • Tara  March 20, 2022 at 3:56 am Reply

      Stascy ~ I don’t think you should be embarrassed for the family. Flowers are beautiful, yes. However, it’s possible the family did not want flowers. Or, people who knew the deceased or family knew they don’t care for flowers. Flowers were sent millions of years ago to cover up the smell of the deceased. That is no longer needed. My mother passed away 2 weeks ago. The funeral home was not packed with flowers for 2 reasons. 1. I wanted the room packed with pictures of her beautiful and fulfilled life. 2. I AM VERY ALLERGIC TO FLOWERS! So definitely consider sending something other than flowers. These days allergies are terrible (in my area anyway). I even requested in the obituary for guests to please refrain from wearing perfume/cologne. Some people still sent flowers, (I had the funeral home to put them all behind the urn.) mostly people her husband knew. When I tried to give them to him he did not want them. I was able to gift them to a dear friend who helped me so much during the week with meals and arrangements. However, I definitely could have done without the hundreds of dollars spent on flowers that are gonna die in 2 weeks.
      One Friend gave me a gift card to my favorite place to shop. She knew my mother and I went there often and she said when I’m up for it I can go get some “retail therapy”. 💙 it. Another friend, took me to get a massage. It was definitely much appreciated after months of caring for my Mama who lived 40 min away, running back and fourth from home to work, be w/ my family to her place and back again.
      Windchimes were nice but I received 3 sets. ALL from the same floral shop! I feel like they should have let the givers know there were already some being sent. ! Another friend, knew I was struggling to find the perfect urn so she helped me pick one out and gave me money to put toward it. A friend dropped off a bottle of wine (I know that isn’t for everyone, but I sure appreciated it.- my mama would have too!)
      I just ask that you don’t pity people who don’t have a room full of flowers. You don’t know their story.
      We tell people not to judge and dang, you’re judging the deceased.
      The idea of making sure family is fed on the day of is wonderful. My mother passed on Saturday at 1:57. I had been w her all day. Then we waited for Hospice, funeral home, etc. by the end of the night we were all starving but way too emotionally exhausted to cook or go anywhere. To this moment I really am not sure if my kids ate dinner that night. Although, I’m sure they found something in mamaw’s cabinet to snack on.
      Another good idea is a memorial ornament. If it’s parent one for all the children to have. Someone who knew my mom in crossing sent me a laminated copy of the obituary. When someone passes they may have to clean out their things from a house, room storage wherever, I think offering to help with that would be a huge blessing. I have a friend going with me tomorrow to start going through moms things. I plan to have keep, donate, sell boxes and anything my friend wants I will gladly let her have it for coming to help.
      I had friends who helped get my kids to everything they needed to get to for the whole week after my moms passing. So I could get things accomplished, didn’t have to worry about time and was able to have a few moments to cry without upsetting my babies. She could have spent $50.00/60.00 in flower arrangements but that was totally free and meant the world to me!
      I definitely encourage people to “think outside the box”
      when it comes to gifting a grieving family/member.
      Thank you for writing this post – great ideas here!

  54. A Tree Instead Corp  July 26, 2017 at 10:53 am Reply

    In lieu of sending flowers, planting a tree is a wonderful way to memorialize any lost loved one.
    Send this beautiful personalized tree certificate to your family, friends, or loved ones, to show your expression of sympathy or in recognition of a special occasion.
    When you don’t know what to say at times of loss, let the caring words in this sympathy gift in one say it for you.
    A vibrant, beautiful tree benefits everyone in this and future generations and it is perhaps the most fitting memorial of all. Planting a tree is an act of direct benefit to all.
    Honor your friends and loved ones with the gift of trees.

  55. pk  April 18, 2017 at 6:56 pm Reply

    After my Dad died suddenly 30 years ago, I still remember seeing all of the beautiful flowers when I walked into his memorial service. After all of the shock and sadness I had been through, seeing all of that beauty in that moment , and the way I felt when I saw all of the beautiful flowers has stayed with me all these years.

  56. Debbie  February 4, 2017 at 2:40 am Reply

    My husband just died a week ago. My family called express sympathy verbally and told me “let me know if you need anything” and hung up. I have minor children and yes I could use food, etc during this trying time while planning a spouse’s funeral. I wish they could have just done something instead asking me that passing meaningless phrase….I just have to say wow… I am not going to chase you down and let you know what I need. Send food, a small gift of money, etc. Just do something if you care. It does not have to be much. I just wanted a little more that a phrase….I am sooo sad. Thank you for letting me air this out.

    • Tara  March 20, 2022 at 4:12 am Reply

      Yes! People just need to hop in and do. I can’t tell you what YOU can do for me because I may not know the depths you’re willing to go.
      Can you feed us – oh no sorry I can’t do that I’m broke.
      Can you take my kids to school? No sorry I have to work or I have an appointment.
      Can you sit with me? Oh no honey I can’t do that I have my hair appointment today.
      If people truly want to help and be there for you, they have to say what they can and would be willing to do for you.
      Like, hey I know this is a hard time can I come sit with your kids today so you can get out of the house. Am I take your kids to get a treat so you can have a few minutes of silence? Sister, can I get your kids ready for bed tonight and afterwards us have a glass of wine while we go through pictures of your loved ones.
      To anyone reading this definitely TELL the grieving family member what you are able and willing to do.
      I’m so sorry your family wasn’t much help. No one should have to go through that alone. Sometimes, friends are our real family. My 7 or 8 friends definitely did way more for me than any of my family. They sent messages asking what can they do? I would tell them what I had going on and they would send the same thing. Well tell me if you need me! Yes, I need you I just my lost my mama. I’m not gonna say well can you come here and just love on me? For the most part we have all lost someone or struggled in some type of way. Put your feet in their shoes what would help you out if you were in their situation? Then DO IT!!
      I truly hope you find your people. Your people will be there and will know just what to do!

  57. JL Watson  December 19, 2016 at 10:15 pm Reply

    I give windchimes. Luckily there is a Wild Birds Unlimited in my city that sells them and they cost the same as some flowers. I just have to pick them up and deliver them myself. I wish florists offered more choices.

  58. Joan  December 12, 2016 at 8:47 pm Reply

    Choosing the right bereavement gift can be a challenge. Thanks for your very helpful suggestions. Many choose to give sympathy stones which can be given to the mouner or placed on the grave. https://greetingstones.com/29–sympathy

  59. Jen  November 13, 2016 at 2:29 am Reply

    I created a Youcaring memorial for my sister. Since then, I’ve created a Survivor’s Guide, which is a comprehensive how-to checklist for the surviving spouse, children, executor that addresses all the legal, financial, emotional steps someone has to take when someone dies. It’s much more of the practical friend gift, but was something I wish I had when my sister died. Basically, it’s something you buy for the person, print off, and then give to them and let them know you’ll be there to help them get through the settling of the estate, probate, closing of bank accounts, etc.. As you all know, it’s this stuff that really hurts and can take forever, and you often have to do once everyone has gone home. http://www.survivorresources.com

  60. Moira  August 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm Reply

    I still think a few flowers are thoughtful rather than a large arrangement. The fact that they die is a fact of life as is death. The receiving of flowers and cards is a realisation that the death is a reality not a nightmare. The gradual fading flowers give you something beautiful to take in as you adjust to the situation. Finally throwing them away acknowledges a new start.
    If too many flowers arrive then choose a few and ask a willing supporter to distribute them to women’s shelters, community centres etc.. When my Dad died, people were asked to not give flowers but donate the money to research on the illness that took him. Flowers still came and we appreciated them.
    Surely civilisation has not become so fickle that they need Thankyou cards from the bereaved. Too much other junk just gets in the way of returning to a new life as soon as possible .

  61. Stephanie  June 20, 2016 at 6:01 pm Reply

    My fiancée just lost his uncle. He leaves behind his wife, a 21 year old and an 8 year old. They are a very faith centered family and I thought about naming a star after him so they can look up and remember he’s there watching over them from the heavens. I like the tear soup book as well. Just reading the reviews on amazon I was crying. Thank you so much for the ideas.

    • Litsa  June 21, 2016 at 9:38 am Reply

      I am so sorry for the loss your fiancé’s family is dealing with. These are lovely ideas and I am sure his family will be touched.

  62. Anna Picket  April 18, 2016 at 11:40 pm Reply

    When I was little I remember my grandma’s funeral had a ton of flowers as well. While they were pretty, they got in the way while all the family was in town for the funeral, so I try not to send them for funerals myself. I like the idea of giving something to the children affected by the death or some service. https://www.prittsfuneralhome.com/services/funeral-services

  63. Juz  April 4, 2016 at 1:43 am Reply

    When a mutual friend’s husband passed, my friend took tea-bags, milk, sugar and a loaf of bread round to the house. I was puzzled. She explained that it is what people did when her father died and she was really appreciative as she kept running low on supplies for the steady stream of visitors coming to pay their respects.
    Before my sister took her life four weeks ago, my mother’s only experience of death was her own mother back in 1989. She wasn’t even 40 then, and although I lived with my grandmother and was 18 at that time, she had 3 younger children (one a toddler) and a manic depressive husband to care for, as well as her employment. Additionally, her elder siblings took care of the arrangements and were on hand for family and friends that called.
    Thus, my mum was overwhelmed with people calling with tea, coffee, sugar, milk. I had to explain to her what my friend had told me. These items proved valuable. We live in England you see and we are a nation of tea drinkers!
    Incidentally, my mum’s next door neighbours are African. They came to call and offer their sympathy. When they were leaving, my mum called them back as they’d left their grocery shopping on the floor. “No, my dear. That is for you. In my culture we look after the bereaved mother.” My mum was moved to tears by the gesture. There was bread, cakes, biscuits, cooked meats, pastries and even bottled water.
    I do like that American tradition of making a casserole or pie. Unfortunately, my city, through disastrous central and local government planning over the years, has broken up and disbanded our once proud local communities. Nowadays, we barely know any of our neighbours by name. Which makes our African friends gesture even more beautiful.

  64. Tinna  March 28, 2016 at 9:56 am Reply

    These are all wonderful suggestions! When my grandmother passed away a couple years ago, a friend brought some outdoor chimes to the funeral home for my family. I love them! We can sit outside during the summer we can listen to the chimes and be reminded of my grandma.

  65. Nicole  October 22, 2015 at 6:12 pm Reply

    I was given a windchime when I lost someone who was the center of my world. I was told that whenever I heard it that was my loved one. I have also always lit a candle in memory of loved ones who have passed

  66. Claire  October 20, 2015 at 8:04 pm Reply

    I have started to offer something through my Etsy page that is perfect for this situation… I wasn’t really sure how to offer it to the right group of people so I searched the topic and found this, hopefully this is a good resource for some people looking for an long-lasting and meaningful alternative. The listing explains it better, but they are necklaces that weigh 21grams to represent the weight of the soul. They are customizable and the same price you would spend on a nice boquet of flowers.

  67. Elizabeth Park  August 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm Reply

    Awesome article! Thanks for sharing. So many different ideas to gift for friends and family in grief. How about a fingerprint charm jewelry or a tear bottle? These are very personal and may be able to provide comfort knowing that we can keep our loved ones even after death.

  68. Camila  March 19, 2015 at 1:40 pm Reply

    I just wanted to draw your attention to a wonderful website called http://www.TakeThemA Meal.com
    Here, one can create a personal post that describes the food needs and preferences (allergies etc) of the family and distribute the post to friends who then sign up for a night to bring a meal. The group can see where there are gaps in the schedule and avoid duplicate meals. It works beautifully for when a family member is in hospital but is also a lovely way to continue a stream of care packages over the long term after a person has died. Sometimes all those good intentions just need a little organization and direction.

  69. Patricia Young  December 22, 2014 at 3:07 pm Reply

    Great article Chelsea! I love all the ideas that you suggest here. Some times you’re not sure what would be better than flowers and you provided a great list of options. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  70. Barbara Williams  December 20, 2014 at 1:59 am Reply

    Excellent post of ideas on what to send in lieu of flowers. They are so traditional that everyone tends to go straight for them without even thinking there are other alternatives. This certainly clears that up. Thanks for sharing them.


  71. Tina M. Games (@MoonlightMuse)  December 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm Reply

    What a great list of alternatives – thank you! ~ When my mother passed away, we were drowning in flowers and food. And while these “gifts” were much appreciated, I would have preferred a donation to our charity of choice. ~ I realized, at that time, that our family and my mother’s friends were very traditional – and just couldn’t grasp the concept of anything other than flowers and food. ~ Even my well-thought out reasons for donating to our charity of choice couldn’t break the old traditions. So I ended up making a substantial charity donation in my mother’s name on behalf of our family because that’s what felt right to me – and it was a way to honor my mother’s legacy, giving a gift that kept on giving.

  72. martha  December 19, 2014 at 10:22 am Reply

    Great ideas and I personally like offering a donation in place of flowers. It can be overwhelming with the flower thing and I know when my mom passed I appreciated donations to the hospice home she was in. Thank you!

  73. Veronica  December 17, 2014 at 3:21 pm Reply

    Amazing and helpful and sensitive ideas Chelsea! I love the letters to organize. This is something I always wanted to do concerning my own losses. Thank you for the wonderful ideas and gifts you offer!

  74. Leigh  December 7, 2014 at 6:41 am Reply

    My daughter (27) just passed away a few weeks ago after a chronic illness. We stated in her obituary that flowers would be appreciated as ” a soothing balm and reminder of her vibrant life”. Her favorite color was purple and we received close to 40 arrangements. We used every single one.
    Many we’re taken to her grave, first at internment and then the next day by her husband and myself to more fully cover it (when we could think a bit more clearly). Her grave will never look more beautiful. There must have been close to $1500.00 of flowers on it. We took photos to remember to beauty.
    Other arrangements were divided amoung family members and continue to offer comfort. Their fragrance and beauty is truly healing.. I’m drying a few roses to preserve.
    This would not have been possible without the compassion of our funeral personnel who graciously transported all the flowers back to a nearby family member’s home the evening of the funeral. It allowed us time the next morning to consider our choices.

    • Tricia  December 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm Reply

      I know that flowers are not valued as they used to be, but I LOVE them. I am so glad you had many beautiful fliers and really appreciated them. To me, the flowers say “we are here with you”

  75. Tricia  November 22, 2014 at 1:05 pm Reply

    When considering memorial gifts, again, please DO think of the family. While our culture is changing, I find the biggest benefit of sending flowers is that they are lovely and represent your presence on the day of the funeral. And then they are GONE, and the family doesn’t feel as though they must keep these constant reminders everywhere. How many memorial stones and keepsakes might they receive? And there is a great deal of guilt that goes along with it if they simply don’t want it. Or really don’t like it. Consider that they feel they need to display a gift from a friend for some time. This is why food and flowers, stamps and practical items are perfect in my mind. They go away.

    • Litsa  November 22, 2014 at 1:24 pm Reply

      That is a great perspective , Tricia. We are assuming that 95% of people will still send flowers, food, etc but wanted to provide alternatives for those who don’t want to, or those occasions where families expressly ask for no flowers. Every family is different, so it is important to consider each family and what may be best for them. I hated getting food, because I ate so little of it and threw away most of it, but for others food may be a perfect gesture! I also liked keeping the meaningful gifts, but felt like the flowers were a waste. I can absolutely understand how others feel the exact opposite!! This is why finding the right thing can be tough.

    • Margaret Beck  February 22, 2020 at 7:11 am Reply

      I agree with sending flowers and a lovely card, and perhaps a plate of cookies or sweet bread a few days AFTER all the hullabaloo fades. I know everyone wants to be creative and think of a more lasting gift, but, personally, through all the family deaths I have gone through, the LAST thing I wanted, personally, is a trinket not of my choosing that made me think of the death of my loved one. I know people mean well, but, for me, after the funerals, over all the years, I most appreciated things that went away or were used up. I needed no material object to gaze upon to remind me of the one I lost.

      • Sandi Herron  August 30, 2020 at 12:31 pm

        Great article! And while I agree with several of the other comments, a lack of flowers during a funeral is one of the saddest things ever for those of us that have lost a loved one. However, back in 2016 my very best friend lost her 19 year old daughter in a single vehicle car accident. She has since then tried to channel her unbearable grief into a small business named in her daughters honor. I would encourage everyone to visit their website for more information. But long story short she is a local (Tuscaloosa AL )mother who is consumed with tragedy and loss. Her daughter literally lit up a room when she entered it. Her daughter also spent years of very vivid nightmares since she had been a toddler but at a book fair in elementary school she bought a dreamcatcher, not even fully aware of the legend or significance of how tribes believed in the power of them (the dreamcatcher). The name of the small business is Chaneys Dream. You can find it on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Etst. She has handcrafted each piece and also does custom orders. She has a very beautiful vibrant style with each piece and my 2 person favs are the Memorial Dreamcatchers and the comfort boxes. The memorial dreamcatchers are actually sent to the funeral home or graveside service and placed with all of the flower arrangements and can be made with favorite colors of the lost loved one or my all time favorite is the dreamcatcher title “In the arms if an angel”and consist of angel wings and mostly white feathers and ribbon. But it is truly stunning. The comfort boxes can also be customized with your choice of items from tissue to grief journals to pens and stationary to keychains to gift cards for restaurants or spa or anywhere that survivors would most likely use it and always include a small dreamcatcher for your rearview mirror to remind us that our past follows us, as do our lost loved ones who continue to be with us even after their time on earth has expired. The connection and memories and dreams lost and the dreams shared are always with us. Please check out her work and Chaneys story. You will be glad you did!
        Chaney’s Dream!

        Thank you for all of the other suggestions in the article and replies. May God continue to comfort those with broken hearts and may peace find each and every single person hurting, no matter the cause of the pain. And never ever stop dreaming!
        With love always,

  76. Betsy  October 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm Reply

    I have worked at an animal hospital for decades. Pets become very depressed when a housemate dies. Maybe time at a doggie daycare or just your time with the pets and other family left in the house. They can become destructive, agressive, anxious with no interaction.

    • Eleanor  November 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm Reply

      That’s a really interesting idea! That you for suggesting it.

  77. Sarah Arrow  July 24, 2014 at 4:50 am Reply

    This is a really powerful post, thanks for sharing it with us. Often it’s hard to know what to send to a funeral as you have your own grief to deal with as well as be respectful.

  78. Peggy  July 23, 2014 at 5:38 pm Reply

    I admit I struggle with knowing the right thing to offer in these circumstances. But you’ve given me some great ideas.

    • Litsa  July 23, 2014 at 8:32 pm Reply

      Glad we could help, Peggy!

  79. Marilyn Eppolite  July 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm Reply

    I love your ideas. Sometimes people just zone out because grief is such a hard thing to be present with. All of the options show caring and nurturance during that difficult time. I will make a mental note the next time I need this. Thank you!

    • Litsa  July 23, 2014 at 8:34 pm Reply

      Thanks Marilyn. I agree many people just want to avoid grief and those grieving, which then makes the griever feels all the more alone. Glad you liked some of these. We hope these, as well as our posts on how to support a grieving friend, will make it just a little easier for people to be present with others who have gone through a loss.

  80. Deb Brown  July 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm Reply

    My business helps businesses pick the right gift for their clients and colleagues for any occasion. I love this post because a bereavement gift can be a tricky thing to pick out. I like to do something that will be a lasting tribute to the person that they lost. I have given candles, garden stones, and Christmas ornaments that include a message of keeping the memory alive. I also got a great book called Tear Soup for a family who lost their dad to help Mom and children deal with their grief. You have a very thorough list of ideas here. Thanks for your post!
    Deb Brown
    Client Retention Specialist, Gift Guru, Chief WOW Creator
    Touch Your Client’s Heart

    Get my FREE report – “10 Beach-Themed Gift Ideas to WOW Your Clients” here:

    • Litsa  July 23, 2014 at 8:35 pm Reply

      Thanks Deb – what a unique business you run! I am glad you liked the post.

  81. Sue Bryan  July 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm Reply

    Chelsea, these are great ideas. I especially like the idea of a self-care gift. We forget in our society how grieving impacts us. Thank you

  82. flowers Adelaide  April 7, 2014 at 6:57 am Reply

    Chocolate and cake would be great alternative for flowers.

  83. Dan  March 31, 2014 at 7:39 pm Reply

    One suggestion: Susan Bertram wrote a beautiful illustrated children’s book called “With You: Coping with the Loss of a Loved One” which could be linked to from the “Something For the Kids” section to Amazon’s site (like the “Guide to Supporting a Griever”). I think that is a very nice alternative to flowers…

  84. Tulipz florist  March 24, 2014 at 7:40 am Reply

    I like your Vacation Time gift ideas . here i read some unique ideas to send or happy your loved ones with other than flowers. Thanks for sharing with us .

  85. David Storke  February 15, 2014 at 7:15 pm Reply

    There are a lot of heartfelt sympathy gift ideas presented here. Thanks. I’ve been a funeral director for 29 years and have seen how much money is spent on sympathy gifts . I know, first hand, the senders good intentions and desire to “do something” helpful for the family. Food has always been a welcome and useful gift. Sometimes distance or schedules don’t permit the preparation or delivery of a meal. Several years ago I created https://www.sympathyfood.com as “A Comforting Alternative to Flowers.” Our chef-prepared, fully cooked meals can be shipped anywhere in the continental US in 1-3 days.

  86. Shana  December 31, 2013 at 12:05 am Reply

    I send stamps instead of flowers. (for the thank-you cards) Or go for the practical….baggies and freezer containers for all the food. Household items…toilet paper, dish soap. They may not get anyone to do any shopping and may have a house full of family.

    • Eleanor  December 31, 2013 at 11:17 am Reply

      What a great idea for care package items! I’ll definitely remember these suggestions.

      • Teri Bearden  November 11, 2016 at 8:35 am

        I love these ideas. Thought I would post from personal experience. My husband was killed November 18, 2015 so of course with our five kids and other family and friends our home was filled with people for days. We had so much good that we donated what we had leftover twice to the Salvation Army. I had several people that brought paper plates, trash bags, toilet paper, plates, napkins, utensils and paper towels and I still have some of things now and it has been almost a year. Those are things I never thought of but with all of the extra people in your home those things go quickly. I have taken those same things to friends since then and have gotten many thanks for those things. Just something to think about.

  87. Leighanna  July 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm Reply

    I like the mentioned ideas. For those with strong faith I like to purchase an angel and write “in memory of” on the bottom.

    • Eleanor  July 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm Reply

      Leighanna, that’s a really thoughtful idea! Thank you for sharing!

      • Marilyn  December 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm

        I like Leannann’ idea with the angel. When my Mother passed away a lot of people sent yellow roses. Very beautiful but everytime I looked at them it made me sad. Mom loved yellow roses–what I don’t understand is why family and friends didn’t give her roses when she was alive so she could enjoy them?

  88. Melissa Anderson  May 17, 2013 at 5:50 pm Reply

    I totally agree with these. Great ideas! I just realized that part when you mentioned giving flowers at a funeral. You’re right. But since flowers has been a tradition especially here in my place, it has been regard as some way of a respect.

    • Eleanor  May 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm Reply

      Absolutely Melissa, flowers are more often than not regarded as a beautiful gesture. I think the most important take away is to consider the family and what they will find most comforting and supportive.

  89. Funeral Flowers  May 14, 2013 at 11:54 am Reply

    I am a florist and work with funeral arrangements. i like the idea of the memorial stone maybe as an addition to the arrangement. Is there a site to order?

    • Eleanor  May 14, 2013 at 3:54 pm Reply

      Yes there is a site to order the stone. Although I’m sure you can find others around the web, the shop we linked to is With Sympathy Gifts and Keepsakes located at this link:https://withsympathygifts.com/mystore/garden.html?p=1

      • funeral flowers  June 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm

        it say forbidden i dont have permision to see the site??? re your link http://www.withsympathy...

      • Litsa  June 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm

        I am not sure what the problem is, as I just double checked the link and it works. If you go back up to the picture of the stone in the post and click on it it should take you to the site. The link again is https://withsympathygifts.com/mystore/garden.html

        Hopefully that helps!

      • Funeral Flowers  July 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm

        Much Better 🙂

  90. How to Write a Sympathy Card  March 8, 2013 at 9:22 am Reply

    […] Now that you know how to write a sympathy card, want ideas for things you can send someone after their loved one has died (other than flowers!).  Check out our link on Alternatives to Sending Flowers for ten great ideas.  […]

  91. Lisa  February 28, 2013 at 7:44 pm Reply

    Great ideas! I think it’s most important to think about the person or family that is receiving the gift. My grandmother was an amazing and talented gardener, so at her funeral we were a little disappointed by the lack of flowers! For us, that was the greatest gift to give, becuase we knew how much she would have loved it. Instead we received a pile of cards. And while they were thoughtful and of course appreciated, the real gift for us would have been flowers! Everyone is different!

    • Litsa  February 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm Reply

      Lisa, so sorry for the loss of your grandmother and thanks for sharing. I totally agree that thinking of the person who died and what they would have wanted, as well as the family recieving, is the most important thing. People often struggle to know what to do or send, but a little time thinking about the person and the family can usually point us in the right direction. If the person loved something in life, it will often be a comforting memorial. My great-uncle was a huge Orioles fan. Several friends sent Orioles-themed flower arrangements to the funeral home. Might sound crazy to a lot of people, but it was perfect for him!!

  92. chelsea hanson  February 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing…great ideas!
    Flowers are beautiful….I just don’t like when they wilt and the bereaved person has to see more things “dying,” so that is why I also tend to stay away from flowers for sympathy gifts.

    • Faka  March 22, 2013 at 8:49 am Reply

      That God is faithful to turn our mruoning into gladness. He can take this tragic experience and make beauty out of it by giving me understanding and compassion for others and teaching me to cherish my family on earth even more.

    • Molly  April 12, 2016 at 3:14 pm Reply

      All very sad but helpful my hubbys aunt died last year it’s coming up to D day any how she left a plant in her house so I’m going to slip it many times and give it to people who loved her and who she loved

      • Christine  February 11, 2017 at 2:26 pm

        That’s a very nice idea

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