What to Send for Sympathy Instead of Flowers

When a friend or family member loses someone they love, flowers can be the go-to sympathy gift. 

Flowers are beautiful, accessible, and relatively affordable. You can place an order with a local florist or an online service and they can be to the recipient within 24 hours or less. 

Flowers aren't always the best option for a sympathy gift, however. At least not for everyone. 

It can be difficult to know what to gift someone following a loss, so in this post we're going to look at good gifts for sympathy that aren't flowers and how to know what to choose. 

Why Flowers Aren’t Right for All Sympathy Gifts 

Flowers are gorgeous, and they're clearly a thoughtful gesture. All sympathy gifts are typically appreciated.

That being said, they may not be the best sympathy gift in all situations for a number of reasons.

First, it's common to be completely overwhelmed with flowers post-funeral. They may have brought some of the funeral flowers home, and as many people send flowers following a loss, it's not uncommon to have the bereaved's home full to the brim of Lillies, tulips, and hydrangeas. 

Flowers also require care, which someone who is grieving may not have the energy to offer. They need to have their water changed and stems trimmed, and they can spoil quickly.

When the flowers wilt or even start to rot after a few days, this can be upsetting to someone who is grieving. They now have to throw away the symbols of care. from others, and are left with an empty home. 

In certain cases, even receiving flowers may be upsetting. My husband's mother, for example, struggled when she received flowers for her husband's passing because he had always been the one to give her flowers. Receiving them from others and for his passing was a hard realization that he wouldn't be bring them home himself anymore. 

Fortunately, there are multiple different options to consider when you're trying to choose a sympathy gift. They fall into two categories: Practical, useful gifts, and symbolic sympathy gifts. 

Useful Gifts for Sympathy to Alleviate Stress 

The weeks following a loss can be the perfect time for practicality. Whether it's a loss of a parent, a spouse, a child, a friend, or even a coworker, losing someone who was an integral part of our lives can shake us to the core.

When it feels like our whole world has been turned upside down, practical and useful gifts can be an enormous asset. This is particularly true if the bereaved may be struggling financially. Funerals are expensive, after all. 

A common sympathy gift (which may be given in addition to a card and something else) is a meal that's brought to the bereaved's home. Gift certificates for food or coffee are also always welcome.

If you know that the grieving party may be particularly overwhelmed by something in particular, offering to cover a service that helps (like a lawn service, or grocery deliveries) is a wonderful gift that can be a lifesaver immediately following a death. 

Aromatherapy gifts offer a welcome moment of peace and tranquility during the difficult days.  The calming scent of lavender provides a mental and emotional state of comfort.Lavender Aroma Therapy Bath Salt

Symbolic Sympathy Gifts to Acknowledge a Loss 

Symbolic sympathy gifts can be a kind, heartfelt and thoughtful way to acknowledge a loss. 

These are typically physical, tangible goods that are beautiful and decorative. Some may also have practical benefits, like a sympathy blanket or a memorial bench, but many have the whole purpose of honoring a life well-lived and a person missed.

Symbolic sympathy gifts can typically be kept long-term and are meant to offer comfort while commemorating the life. While many immediate family members will want to select their own urn or memorial bench if applicable, they would appreciate gifts like the following: 


You can think about what your loved one would use or appreciate most. Someone who loves to sit outside in nature, for example, would likely love the wind chimes, while you should avoid a delicate (and breakable!) glass teardrop bottle for a busy mom with lots of small children.  

Final Thoughts 

When you're searching for good gifts for sympathy, flowers may be your go-to choice. And if you ultimately decide that flowers are best for the recipient, then you know best! But before you start browsing sympathy bouquets online, take some time to browse our site and the other days we've discussed here. You just might find something that might be a better fit. 

Looking for ideas for sympathy gifts? Check out what we have to offer here