The 9 Best Sympathy Gifts to Buy in 2018

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Unfortunately, everyone will have to face the loss of a loved one at some point. And while there’s no gift in the world that can bring someone back, sending a bereavement gift can let a friend know that you’re thinking of them during a difficult time.

Typical gift suggestions usually revolve...MORE around celebrations and excitement — not loss and sorrow — so your go-to gift ideas probably feel inappropriate for this situation. We've rounded up the best sympathy gifts to provide some relief or comfort for a mourning friend. 


  • Sympathy Bakery Gift Basket

    Best Gift Basket: Sympathy Bakery Gift Basket

    Besides a hug, a shoulder to cry on and an offer to listen, sometimes the best thing you can give to someone who’s mourning a loss is something sweet. It seems like a simple gift, but people need to indulge when faced with a tragedy. This gift box from Harry & David offers quite a variety, from walnut chocolate chip cookies to an apple loaf cake making it the perfect sympathy gift basket. The assortment is presented on a wooden tray that may become a permanent fixture in your friend’s...MORE kitchen, and it’s decorated with a ribbon and a small tag that reads, “With Sympathy.” Your friend can even put out this sampling of baked goods for family members that are staying in town for the funeral (which means you just saved them a trip to the bakery).

  • Best for Relaxation: Bath Bombs Gift Set

    It’s so easy to neglect your physical and mental needs while you’re grieving. Your world was just turned upside down and nothing else matters right now. Help someone experiencing a loss make self-care a priority with this bath bombs set. Each box contains 12 handcrafted bath bombs that come in scents like mango papaya, lavender, lemongrass green tea and melon. The natural ingredients are non-toxic and the formula has shea and cocoa butter to moisturize, too.

    Some of the bath bombs have flower...MORE petals that emerge once they melt away into the water, while others have pearls. All of them have natural dyes and a fizzy effect that creates a fun and relaxing bath experience. The gift of relaxation is the perfect sympathy gift idea because it is something they really need at this time. 

  • Best Book: The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

    One of the questions that so often goes unanswered for those mourning the loss of a loved one is, “What was dying like for them?” In The Bright Hour, Nina Riggs, a great-great-great granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson and a poet herself, attempts to answer that question as she lives with what will eventually prove to be terminal breast cancer. “This is not light reading,” one Amazon reviewer points out, but then goes on to say it “is beyond eye-opening.” Your friend may find some consolation in...MORE the insights, lessons and reflection that fill this book.

  • Best for Photos: Live, Laugh, Love Photo Album

    Even in the age of digital everything, there’s something special about a photo album. (Remember: Digital pictures can still be printed.) It provides a home and a spot on the shelf for these paper copies of fond memories. Your grieving friend may find comfort in going through pictures from times they spent with the person they’ve lost. And later, when they need a reminder, they can go back to this album and take a trip through their memories all over again.

    The embroidered cover has a special...MORE “Live, Laugh, Love” message across the front to emphasize the happy times that people were able to share with the person they lost. The album holds 200 4”x6” photos — two photos per page — and leaves room in a memo-writing area on each page for people to jot down notes and fun memories.

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  • Best Flowers: Succulents

    There’s something a bit sad about sending a bouquet of flowers that you know won’t last beyond a few days. And it’s likely that your friend has received plenty of flowers already. Instead of flowers — make your gift stand out by sending this set of 12 succulents.

    Succulents are easy to care for — you wouldn’t want to add more work to someone’s plate at a time like this — and they require very little water. These low-maintenance plants add life to a room and create an indoor garden that doesn’t...MORE take up a lot of space. They’re great for apartment dwellers and friends who can’t seem to find their green thumb.

  • Best for Memories: Memory Jar

    Imagine if you could give a friend in mourning even more memories of their loved one. How? This memory jar comes with 180 blank tickets and a pen. Your friend can put it out at the funeral or wake to gather thoughts and memories from people that knew the deceased best.

    The jar is a great way to see the full picture of the life that was lost. Old friends can reminisce about childhood adventures and family can share holiday anecdotes and small moments. Your friends can put the filled-out tickets in...MORE a scrapbook or keep the jar displayed on a shelf at home.

  • Best Spiritual: Woodstock Medium Amazing Grace Chime

    Music can have a big impact on stress and emotions, which is why a wind chime can serve as a calming gift after a death. Listening to the chimes on a warm, breezy day gives someone a sense of peace and a connection to nature. What a great setting to sit and think about a loved one who is no longer here! This particular wind chime is tuned to the opening notes of Amazing Grace. It has six aluminum tubes, cherry-finished accents and a removable wind catcher. It’s sure to give someone years of...MORE happy times sitting outside. 

  • Best Jewelry: Honeycat Rose Gold Locket

    This rose gold locket is an easy way to keep a loved one close to your heart at all times — literally. The long chain keeps the pendant (and photo inside) on your chest throughout the day and allows you to layer the necklace with a shorter one. Give it to a friend dealing with a loss, so they can open it up whenever they need a reminder of good times.

    The minimalist design means this piece of jewelry can become a staple of anyone’s wardrobe. It matches everyday looks and works well for people of...MORE all ages. The metal is brass plated with 24k gold, 18k rose gold and rhodium. It definitely looks pricier than it actually is.

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    Best for Snacking: Sending Sympathy Food Set

    There’s a reason it’s called comfort food. Food goes straight to the soul via the stomach. And when someone passes away, family members need consolation and nourishment. This kit from Mouth allows a family member or friend in mourning to graze as they greet guests and run errands. The Sending Sympathy box includes hearty snacks, dips and sweets that might bring a smile to someone’s face. They’ll get spiced sour cherry spread, fig and olive tapenade, caramelized onion crisps, farro crackers,...MORE cloud cookies and chocolate-covered hazelnuts.

    It’s so tempting to bake a casserole or gift a full meal, but during the days immediately following a loss, there might not be much time to sit down to a proper meal. Paperwork needs to be filled out, friends and family need to be notified, funeral arrangements need to be made, a will needs to be executed and so on. Between the heavy weight of loss and all of the busy work that accompanies a death, going grocery shopping is the last thing on someone’s mind. Gifting small bites take a to-do off someone’s list and gives food that can fit into an already packed schedule.