When Should I Send a Sympathy Gift?

Deciding when to send a sympathy gift after a friend or family member has lost a loved one can be an uncertain situation to navigate. You want to offer comfort to your loved one and let them know you’re there for them, but the question of timing is not always easy to answer. 

The aftermath of a death is often incredibly overwhelming to surviving loved ones, for example, but waiting too long to send a gift can also create a dilemma, too. If you’re wondering, “When should I send a sympathy gift" then we can help. Let’s look at a few suggestions, plus the pros and cons of each option.

Immediately After a Loved One’s Passing

Sending a sympathy gift immediately after a loved one passes is a way to lend your emotional support and comfort right away. The shock of loss is often overwhelming and difficult to process, and sending a gift in the near aftermath of a death can help to make the loss--and the support--feel more real.

Items like our Giving Collection Comfort Shawl, for example, can be displayed alongside flower arrangements during a memorial service.

Giving Collection Comfort Shawl

There are downsides to sending a sympathy gift immediately after someone passes that you may want to consider.

Because their loved ones are overwhelmed and in shock, your gift could be lost in the mix. Or the gift may not have the intended effect. Many newly-grieving people keep themselves busy in the first days after a death, and they may not be ready to sit and reflect just yet. 

Individuals who have lost a loved one also tend to have a stream of people in and out of their house during the first few days, while the funeral arrangements are being made. People bring them meals and help take care of their basic needs while they adjust to their new reality. During this time, a gift might add to the list of things they need to address before the memorial service. 

After a Memorial Service

Sending a sympathy gift after a memorial service is one option for people who wish to comfort their loved ones after a loss.

Once the memorial service is over, the initial rush of activity begins to slow down. A small token such as the Always Near necklace could be appropriate at this time--and it’s something they can keep nearby, as a reminder of their loved one.

sympathy gift necklace

However, after the memorial service is over, many families begin the sometimes complicated process of settling their loved one’s estate.

This process can be highly emotional and stressful if the person did not have all their affairs in order prior to death. Their family may spend a lot of time communicating with lawyers and financial institutions in order to wrap up outstanding debts and other matters of their loved one’s estate. 

If your friend or family member is busy settling final affairs for their loved one, then it may be better to wait on sending a gift. While it may be easy to assume things will calm down once the service is over, that may not be the case. Try to get a feel for how things are going for your loved one before you proceed. 

One Year After the Loss 

Marking the one-year anniversary of a loved one’s loss is a welcome comfort for many who are grieving. By the time a year has passed, many of the people surrounding them will have moved on with their lives, and to the one left behind, they might feel as though they are still barely getting by. Additionally, some people who have lost loved ones worry that their friends and family will forget about them as time passes.

A year after a loss, sending a sympathy gift could lend some much-needed comfort to a person who may be feeling lonely. They might be re-living the memories of their loved one’s loss during this time, and your gift could be just what they need. Our Angel’s Arms wind chimes are a lovely and soothing choice on the one-year anniversary of a loss. 

memorial wind chimes

Commemorating the one-year mark after a loss can be a comforting gesture for some people.

This gesture really depends on the individual. It might be necessary to consider factors such as how this individual has walked through their grief over the past year, and whether they fear their loved one’s memory might be lost. The decision to give a gift during this time should be largely based on the individual. 

Around A Loved One’s Birthday

Giving a sympathy gift that acknowledges a loved one’s birthday could lift the spirits of those who loved them while they lived. When a person experiences the birthday of a child, parent, or sibling without them for the first time, this is often emotional and difficult to process. Showing them you care and understand their grief could bring them comfort.

Birthday celebrations after a loss are particularly difficult for children who might be missing a sibling, parent, or grandparent. To comfort your little loved one after a loss, consider the Giving Bear for Kids.

Remembrance Bear for Kids

Acknowledging a loved one’s birthday with a gift might not be appropriate if you weren’t close to the family, or were not a close friend of the person who died. Giving a gift at this time is most appropriate if you were well-acquainted with their loved ones.

During the Holidays 

The holidays are a difficult time for people who have lost loved ones, particularly in the years immediately following a death. For those who have lost a spouse, children, parent, or sibling, the holidays can be especially painful. Winter holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas deal a particular blow. Consider our When Someone You Love Becomes A Memory memorial ornament during this time. 

sympathy gift for the holidays

Before you decide to send a sympathy gift during the holidays, make sure you understand how your loved one approaches this time of year.

Is the holiday a religious observance for them, or do their spiritual beliefs prohibit them from celebrating? Take questions like this into account before you send a sympathy gift around the holidays. 

Final Thoughts 

If you're wondering when is the best time to send a sympathy gift, remember that late is better than never, and sometimes it can even be better than earlier. Think about the person who is grieving and what their current needs are; that's always a good place to start. 

If you need help choosing a sympathy gift for your loved one, we’re here for you. Browse our full collection of sympathy gifts here