Thoughtful Gifts for the Grieving
Download your Gifts for the Grieving Idea List HERE.
A common phrase you'll hear after loss is "let me know if you need anything". Stop saying this! When someone’s child, spouse, parent, etc just died, they probably aren’t going to reach out and ask for your help. Have you ever said this and those grieving actually reached out randomly to ask for something from you? Think about it. I'm guessing not or it's super rare.
When my friends told me they’d be passing by my neighborhood, going to the grocery store, and asked if I wanted anything, this was perfect. Yes. I wanted to pump and donate my breastmilk. I needed hydration. I asked for oat milk and coconut water. They brought it and dropped it at my door when I was napping. Easy. Helpful. Mindful.
Why saying ‘let me know’ doesn’t work — it’s grief homework. Plain and simple. You said your ‘helpful’ piece, can walk away feeling like you tried, and the grieving person is still left with nothing tangible.
Read that again. They are left with literally nothing but words and now a task. Their task is now to follow up with you. Is that fair to them? It’s not. They are hurting, they don’t need homework.
The main problems I see here:
People are generally lazy. They have nothing real in mind that would actually be helpful. They don’t even have the motivation to think up something that might help.
People don’t like to position themselves in the way of pain. If they don’t have to physically show up, they won’t. Showing up would mean holding real space for real pain. That’s uncomfortable. Some would say it’s awkward, but it’s not. It’s a bit cowardly not to, if you ask me.
There’s still a HUGE WRONG assumption that people want to be left alone to grieve in private. That death and grief is a private matter. It’s not. Grievers need support and want to be held up, but are often left to grieve alone.
People often ask - but what can I do instead of saying that? I decided to compile a list of thoughtful gifts that are actually supportive. You can also download my Gifts for the Grieving Idea List HERE for even more thoughtful ideas for multiple needs and different types of grievers. This 4-page document is sure to have something to fit just about everyone.
🍛Find out if there’s a meal train set up, if there isn’t take the initiative and host one and share it
🛍Drop off groceries
🥡Drop off or mail a gift card for a local restaurant or delivery service
📆Put it on your calendar to send a monthly check-in text. Then actually send it checking in
🌲Donate a planted tree in the dead person’s memory
📱Post on social media a sweet memory
🪣Pre-pay for a house cleaning service
🧺Go do their laundry
🌾Go mow their lawn
🛠Fix something around the house
🚘 Notice things like their car registration tags - I forgot to renew mine for 9 months!
💌Send a card in the mail a month later. The cards that come right away are a huge stack, but waiting a month when things are quiet let’s them know they aren’t being forgotten.
🚶🏻♀️Go for a walk together
🚲 Offer to ride bikes
📅Note down important dates like birthday and death day. Then send a kind message like “thinking of you on...” and mention the dead person’s name.
Don't be afraid to ASK the griever if they would like the gift you plan to give. Everyone will have different preferences. Please, be mindful of who is receiving this gift and if THEY would appreciate it. The gift should be less about what you want to give and what they would find useful or meaningful.
Take a moment to notice how many of my suggestions are tangible. And now notice how many are getting yourself physically in front of them. Yeah, that matters and that helps.