When it comes to loss, you want to show someone you genuinely care during their time of need. It helps to provide them with a sympathy gift that can be useful or at least makes them smile during a difficult times.
You want to be mindful of all the things your loved one might be going through and use proper etiquette when picking a sympathy gift—"It's important you give a gift that is about comfort," says Renee Solomon, DSW, clinical psychologist and CEO of Forward Recovery.
We researched unique sympathy gift ideas, considering factors like practicality, quality, and thoughtfulness. Our top picks include a sympathy gift box from Harry & David, a comforting tea set from Knack, and a cooling weighted blanket from Luna.
Harry & David Sympathy Gift Box - Deluxe
A gift basket is a great option for someone experiencing a loss that may live in a different city or state. It shows you care if you can't physically be with someone. Harry & David is a household name for gift baskets, and after weeks of at-home testing, we deemed it the best overall gift basket brand for its wide gourmet selection and accurate delivery times.
Harry & David's Sympathy Gift Box has all the essentials, including fruit, cheese, crackers, and nuts, and there's even a sympathy card to express your love. Our editors love that each basket comes in beautiful packaging with a basket you can reuse or re-gift once you're done. Just ensure to check out shipping times to guarantee that your gift basket arrives in time and that all of the ingredients are fresh and tasty.
Price at time of publish: $90
Luna Cooling Bamboo Weighted Blanket
A warm hug is something most of us can appreciate, especially in a time of need. Luna's weighted blanket can provide a sense of calm and even aid in a better night's sleep. It provides warmth, but the bamboo fibers also help regulate temperature for warmer days or those who tend to sweat in their sleep. The weight of the blanket, which is available in 5 to 30 pounds, is evenly distributed.
While the tie mechanism of this hand-washable blanket can be a bit tricky at first, our tester loved the affordable price of this pick without sacrificing quality or convenience. Also, the different weight options ensure there is a perfect fit for every recipient.
Price at time of publish: $95+
RENPHO Neck and Back Massager with Heat
When experiencing a loss, it becomes increasingly difficult to spend time taking care of yourself. Promote self-care for a loved one going through a difficult time with a neck and back massager that rests easily on their chair or couch. You can choose from various heat and massage settings for a full back massage right at your home, which is perfect for those who don't have time to make it to the salon.
We loved that this pick auto-adjusts to fit your height and delivers a targeted massage for everyone, so the whole family can enjoy it as well.
Price at time of publish: $200
Self-Care for Grief: 100 Practices for Healing During Times of Loss
Processing grief is something everyone handles differently. "Self-Care for Grief" is packed with 100 practices and activities, including naming emotions and even scheduling time to cry. It addresses the grieving process in a way that's compassionate and accessible. This beautiful book will show the recipient you're thinking of them, even when you're not there.
Price at time of publish: $16
Knack Finding Your Zen Tea Set
There's something so relaxing about sitting down with a cup of tea to start the day or even wind down after a warm bath. Knack's tea set includes all the essentials: a 17-ounce porcelain teapot, cups, and saucers. But what really makes this stand out is the "Ten to Zen" meditative guide that's also included. The set can even be customized by adding additional items, such as a candle, honey, eye pillow, and more.
Price at time of publish: $140
Hope is Hip Jewelry Custom Photo Memorial Bracelet
This custom bracelet is an easy way for someone to keep the memory of their loved one close by. A pendant includes the phrase, “Those we love don’t go away; they walk beside us every day,” as well as a photo of your choice. This can be a picture of the person they lost or any special memory. In addition to the phrase and photo, you can select a birthstone gem of your choice.
Price at time of publish: $26
Aya Paper Co. Manifestation Journal
"Less planning, more manifesting" is on the cover of this wire-bound journal. There aren't written prompts on any of the 100 pages, but it's the perfect blank space for someone to write down dreams or goals they hope to accomplish and to help them focus on the great future to come. Also, this makes an excellent eco-friendly gift, as it's made from 100 percent recycled paper.
Price at time of publish: $24
TheraBox Subscription Box
A bath bomb is cool, but when you want the self-care sessions to continue long after a product has fizzled out, TheraBox is a great option. The self-care subscription box—founded by a therapist—includes a therapeutic activity and up to eight wellness products. You can order month-to-month, three months, six months, or even a full year’s worth of boxes. Your loved one will think of you and your kindness every time this box arrives on their doorstep.
Price at time of publish: $36+
Hallmark Jumbo Giving Bear Stuffed Animal
Kids will appreciate this stuffed animal, but adults might, as well. The plush bear is 36 inches tall and perfect for cozying up to or just a fun addition to any couch, chair, or bed. Besides being absolutely adorable and squeezable, there’s an attached bookmark that has an encouraging quote. This is a small yet thoughtful gift for people of all ages.
Price at time of publish: $92
Hello You Candles Personalized Candle Sympathy Gift
There are many ways to use candles to decorate your space. However, these are more than just home decor. You can choose from 9 to 16 ounces and kraft or white paper with these scented soy candles that have a personalized message on the back. The message can be words of encouragement, a quote, or even scripture. The soy candles burn between 40 and 70 hours. We love that the recipient will not only have something beautiful to look at, but also a sweet fragrance to smell.
Price at time of publish: $15
Uber Gift Card
Gift cards are a great way to give a present without limiting exactly how or even when the recipient can use it, and an Uber gift card is a perfect option for the person who might need to get around without wanting to drive. We also love that this gift can be used for Uber Eats to order a much-needed meal from one of their favorite local restaurants.
Price at time of publish: $25
Oleinthewind Memorial Wind Chime
There’s something so beautiful and even calming about a wind chime. This option from Oleinthewind on Etsy features a piece of driftwood with five 8-inch sun catchers. The stained glass comes in cobalt or aqua, and the wood can be personalized with a name or date to honor a special person.
Price at time of publish: $45
Pioneer Live, Laugh, Love Photo Album Embroidered
The embroidered cover of this photo album has a special “Live, Laugh, Love” message to emphasize the happy times that people were able to share with the person they lost. The album holds 200 4 x 6-inch photos and leaves room in a memo-writing area on each page to jot down notes and memories. Your grieving friend might find comfort in going through pictures from times they spent with the person they’ve lost.
Price at time of publish: $20
Natural Succulents Memorial Candle Gift Set
It’s likely that your friend has received plenty of flowers already. Instead of a bouquet, make your gift stand out by sending a succulent gift set. It takes very little to grow and maintain a succulent, making it a gift that can be enjoyed for more than a few days. This set from Natural Succulents on Etsy features a succulent in a small ceramic pot, a 3-ounce candle, and a printed matchbox. You even have the option for add-ons, such as a bath bomb and loofah.
Price at time of publish: $25
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying
One of the questions that 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 lived with terminal breast cancer. A moving read, your friend might find some consolation in the insights, lessons, and reflections that fill this book.
Price at time of publish: $25
1-800-Flowers 31 Days of Kind Notes for Sympathy and Book
The days and weeks after losing someone can feel like a fog, but this 31 Days of Kind Notes provides your recipient with encouragement as they grieve. The keepsake jar includes 31 notes and quotes that range from “hang in there, take it one day at a time” to “gone from sight, but never from our hearts.” These are notes someone can reach for when they’re feeling down or just need a bit of positivity. Also, you can choose to add an 80-page book to the notes, which has longer encouraging passages.
Price at time of publish: $45
Frontgate Resort Plush Robe
Wrap a loved one in comfort and luxury during a difficult time with this classic bathrobe from Frontgate. We noted that this choice feels warm while still lightweight and without overheating. Luckily, rounds in the washer don't affect this robe's quality or softness, making this a low-maintenance gift for anyone that needs a warm hug.
Price at time of publish: $156
Bloomscape Bamboo Palm
Flowers are a typical sympathy gift, but a beautiful plant can also be welcome. This bamboo option can reach up to eight feet in the right conditions but is extremely easy to care for. It's also a pretty low-maintenance plant that can survive in low or indirect light and only needs to be watered once a week. It's also pet-friendly and air-purifying.
Price at time of publish: $199
Pearhead Forever In my Heart Pet Memorial Frame
Pets are members of the family, too. Show your favorite pet parent some love with this 4 x 6-inch frame that has a sweet message and paw prints. Print out an adorable photo of their beloved fur baby, and insert it into the frame. You can hang the frame or display it on a table.
Price at time of publish: $10
What to Look for in a Sympathy Gift
According to Dr. Solomon, an ideal sympathy gift should be one that provides the recipient with some form of comfort. This can come in the form of prepared meals, their favorite flowers, or even a gift card that makes their everyday life just a bit easier.
Also, taking into account a person's specific needs and even their personality is key. "Some people will enjoy humor in a time of pain, but for another person, that may come off as insensitive and rude," says Mallory Gothelf, founder of Find Your/self Boxes. "It’s about knowing the person," she says.
A good personalized or custom gift is a sure way to show them you care during this time of need. Try a photo album or a product that has a special word or phrase on it. This shows you care but also that you put time and consideration into the gift.
A practical gift is an appreciated gift. This doesn’t just mean a present that the person will actually use—you also want to be sure it doesn’t require heavy lifting on their part, like a meal delivery kit for the person who doesn’t cook or a product that requires assembly or care. They just may not have the emotional or physical capacity to take on something that demands extra effort.
Do you give gifts at a funeral?
"It is often not helpful to give someone a sympathy gift at a funeral service because then they have to carry everything home from the service," says Dr. Solomon. Besides being less than practical, Solomon also says presenting the gift during the funeral can make it feel more like a "party," so it's best to just send a gift directly to the person's home.
What can you put in a DIY sympathy gift basket?
If you plan to put together a gift basket, it should include a few items that the recipient will love and use. If you know their favorite foods, like small snacks or tea, you can include those. A gift card to a service or even a virtual class they can take at a later date is also a good idea.
Is wine an appropriate sympathy gift?
A bottle of wine is usually a great present, but it may not always be best for a sympathy gift. "Some people can drink responsibly while grieving, but other people find themselves struggling with grieving and using a substance," says Gothelf. "To be on the safe side, I would stay away from providing a bottle of wine as a gift."
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was written by Patrice J. Williams. She has contributed gift guides to The Spruce since 2020 and loves helping her friends and family find unique, thoughtful, and wallet-friendly presents. In addition to her work for The Spruce, she writes commerce articles, including product suggestions and reviews, for other outlets as well as appears on air for "The Today Show" and WEtv. She also was the Savvy Shopper reporter for WPIX in New York City. We consulted clinical psychologist and CEO of Forward Recovery, Dr. Renee Solomon, and Mallory Gothelf, founder of Find Your/self Boxes, who shared professional advice on the best sympathy gifts.