The following is a guest blog post from Lori Pederson, author of the blog, I Did Not Know What to Say.

The grieving process can be as unique as ones finger print. Each person brings to the journey their individual personality, their connection with the person that passed away, their religious/spiritual beliefs, their feelings about death, and their life experiences. When it comes to choosing a thoughtful sympathy gift one size does not fit all.

Finding the perfect sympathy gift to express your deep concern and provide the recipient with a lasting gift that honors the memory of their loved one, is not an easy task but not an impossible one.

As you consider what might be an appropriate sympathy gift for your loved one, here are a few things to consider:

 1. What are Their Religious Beliefs?

If they are religious, take a few minutes to consider the customs and norms of their religion. Some religions have specific beliefs about giving gifts after the death of a loved one. If they are not religious, be sure to stay away from religious gifts that may offend them. Remember, this is a time to be supportive, not a time to push your own belief system.

Gift Idea: I received a beautiful Angel with a candle that includes Psalm 27: 1 – The Lord is My Light and Salvation. This Angel sits next to my bed and I am reminded that through life’s ups and downs I am not alone.

 2. What are the Circumstances?

The cause of death and the significance of the relationship between your friend and the deceased are important factors to consider when choosing a sympathy gift.

Gift Idea: A friend that lost a pet may appreciate a stepping stone with the animal’s name on it to place in their garden. A mother that is grieving the loss of her child may welcome a thoughtful journal and a personalized memory box with the child’s name inscribed. Sending flowers and being a good listener to a husband whose wife has been murdered may be the best way to offer your support.

3. What is Their Age?

A grandmother may want a different type of gift than a friend in her twenties.

Gift Idea: When my mother passed away a good friend of mind gave me a Calvin & Hobbs cartoon book. Life was so heavy at the time that having something that made me laugh was just what I needed. I was 25 when my mom passed away and for me it was the perfect gift.

4. What is Their Gender?

Gender plays a big part in the type of gift that is appropriate. A male friend may enjoy a round of golf with you much more than a candle or a piece of jewelry.

5. What do They Enjoy?

Try to find activities that bring them joy and help them reconnect with life. A relaxing day at a spa, an enjoyable afternoon at a baseball game, or a nice afternoon tea, are just a few gifts that you can share with your loved one.

Gift Idea: A few weeks after my mom passed away, my friends took me on a trip to Disneyland. What a wonderful gift this was to help bring joy back into my life.

6. Do They Have Any Allergies or Food Restrictions?

When choosing a food gift basket or if bringing food to the family, be sure to check to see if they have any food allergies or are on a restrictive diet. You don’t want to buy a bottle of wine for someone that does not drink. Or bring peanut butter cookies to someone that is allergic to peanuts.

Gift Idea: Don’t have time to cook? Sympathy Food can provide a complete nutritious meal to a grieving family.

 7. Do They Have Pictures in Their Home or Scrapbooks?

If your friend enjoys displaying memories in their home, a personalized picture frame or a decorative scrapbook that they can keep mementos in may be an appreciate gift.

8. What Type of Book Will Reach Them?

If choosing a book, consider the stage of grief your friend is in. The first few months after a loss can be extremely difficult and it may be difficult to concentrate. Books that are easy to digest and provide coping skills by people in similar situations may be best.

Gift Idea: I received a very meaningful, yet simple book after my mother passed called “How to Survive the Loss of a Love”.

9. Think Outside the Box

Gifts don’t need to be traditional; they can be as unique as your imagination.

Gift Idea: When my friend Dan passed away I could not afford the last minute airfare to attend the funeral. A friend of mine paid for my ticket using his frequent flyer miles.

10. Offer Your Support

Some people don’t need or want trinkets, books or movies; they just want a friend that will be there with a listening ear, a hug, and a warm heart.

Buying a special gift basket, inspirational book, customized picture frame, memorial ornament, or sending flowers to a grieving loved one can brighten their day and lift their spirits during a difficult time.

  Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What To Say, a website built to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process.   If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one, please visit our website at www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.