13 Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts For Loved Ones


Personal Shopper is HuffPost’s shopping advice column. We’re here to make life easy when you need recommendations for what to buy in tricky situations, whether you’re making a big or a little investment. Need help? Email us at [email protected] with your shopping questions. We can’t wait to hear from you!

I have a close friend who recently lost a parent and is going through a really rough time. I know there’s nothing I can say to make it better, but I’ve been thinking of her a ton and would love to get her something meaningful to show I care. Any ideas besides the typical flowers and a card? She has been receiving a lot of those and would love to get her something more personal. Thanks in advance!

— Wannabe Supportive Friend

Supporting a friend or loved one as they navigate grief is one of the most loving and compassionate things we can do for each other. Grief isn’t linear, and people can suffer long after others have moved on, which can often lead to feeling alone and forgotten in their pain.

It can be hard to know what to say to someone who is currently experiencing loss, and while I strongly believe that even just sitting with someone in silence and honoring their pain is incredibly meaningful, there’s something loving and thoughtful about sending a token of your sympathies and a reminder that you are with them in spirit.

Sympathy gifts don’t have to be ostentatious to resonate with the recipient — sweet mementos and small gifts can go a long way while keeping your friend’s individual needs and personal tastes in mind. Someone may not need the same kind of gift in the early days of loss that they do as more time passes, and what may seem lovely to one person could feel gauche or insensitive to another.

Below, I’ve rounded up a range of condolence gifts, including self-care products, meal kits, snack samplers, sweet plants and more. Your friend will appreciate being thought of not only in the early days of grief, but as they sail those tricky waters in the weeks and months ahead.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

A beautiful book about the grieving process

Self-help books can be good, but there is much comfort to be found in reading about others’ experiences. This heartrending and beautiful book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi meditates on the death of her beloved father. It discusses being one of the millions of people grieving during a pandemic, the familial and cultural dimensions of grief and the unavoidable loneliness and anger. She is precise, sharp and funny; it’s a beautiful testament to life and death.

A meal delivery kit

The last thing anyone has the bandwidth for during the early stages of grief is meal prep and grocery shopping. Make it easy for them by setting up a meal kit service from Home Chef. It provides a ton of delicious meal options that are nutritious and easy to create.

A self-care kit

Help your friend unwind with a nurturing box filled with bath-centric self-care items from Etsy seller NoveltyOils. It includes a candle, body polish, body cream and a bubble bath bomb.

A customizable candle

Personalize a candle with a custom message or quote and a unique scent that can provide a sense of comfort and peace.

An embroidered sketchbook

Expressing feelings via journaling or art can be immensely helpful, and this gorgeous embroidered sketchbook from Rifle Paper Co. is a great way to help a loved one move through grief. The lovely cover is wrapped in dark green book cloth and embroidered with inspiring florals. The book will give your friend space to work through their feelings.

A classic snack-based gift box

Having snacks on hand is key when your mind is elsewhere, and this thoughtfully curated condolence gift box from Harry & David has a little bit of everything. No one can resist delicious caramel popcorn, sausage and salami, cheddar cheese, crackers, relish, sesame sticks, baklava and more.

A hoya heart plant

A simple and sweet hoya heart plant from The Sill is a tender reminder of your gentle care. It’s a low-maintenance plant that won’t take up a lot of space or require a lot of energy and will remind them of you for years to come.

A cheeky candle

If your pal has a dark sense of humor, then this candle from Etsy seller nuttysparks will be sure to bring a smile to their face. Sometimes, you just need to acknowledge that a situations sucks and not much can be done about it.

A seeds of life tree kit

Help your friend commemorate a loved one’s life by planting a small tree in their honor with this Seeds of Life box from 1-800 Flowers. It includes soil, a biodegradable container and a small seed box with moss. The recipient’s tree seed will be selected based on their zip code from a maple, oak or magnolia seed.

A forget-me-not seed necklace

This thoughtful memorial necklace from Etsy shop MaybunAndBehr features a forget-me-not seed floating within a gold alloy pendant. It’s a beautiful way for them to carry a reminder of a loved one with them on a daily basis.

A classic memoir

In a similar vein as “Notes on Grief,” Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” takes the reader on her grief journey after her husband’s passing. I have personally found great comfort in Didion’s expression of grief when navigating my own. It’s a relief to see someone so beautifully articulate what feels inexplicable when you’re going through it yourself.

A beautiful orchid plant

These Urban Stems orchids are perfect for someone with simple and sophisticated taste. They’ll outlive a bouquet and look lovely in any home. It will remind them of you and your thoughtfulness every time they look at it.

A healing crystal set and decorative bowl

If your pal is the type to enjoy spiritual objects, then this crystal set from Etsy shop CasshooReiki is a great option. The seller says it includes rose quartz for self-compassion, amethyst for calm and better sleep, obsidian to help process grief and keep them grounded, smoky quartz to transmute negative energies and emotions into positive ones, moonstone to process change and help move through the stages of grief, pyrite to protect from burnout and red aventurine to balance excessive energies.