Sympathy Gift Etiquette

by Claire Valenty on January 30, 2010

in Gifts & Celebration Etiquette

gift sympathy etiquette

Sympathy Gift Etiquette states gifts during the time of a death are not expected. However, people being unsure on how to express their condolences, combined with their desire to do something for the survivors, equates to sympathy gifts sometimes being given.

If you have seen any movie where a character has passed, you will notice tons of people arriving at the house with platters full of food. This is the number one sympathy gift. Grief affects us all in different ways in regards to our appetites: some people eat nonstop to fill the empty void now in their life; and others feel sick to their stomachs and can’t keep a mouthful down. Regardless, food is still appreciated as a gift because no matter what, a person has to eat. Dealing with a loss interrupts the day to day activities (such as grocery shopping and cooking) as those suffering obviously have other things on their mind. Your gift will definitely come in handy.

A simple sympathy card is also appreciated. Check out our tips here to help you with sympathy gift etiquette specifically focused on sympathy card etiquette.

Flowers are also popular sympathy gifts. These can either be delivered to the home or the funeral parlor. If you ask the florist to arrange a sympathy bouquet, they will put together an appropriate arrangement. However, flowers are incredibly expensive and, in light of the fact that they do wither away and die quickly (which is very depressing if you have a house full of them after a loved one’s death), a donation to a charity or society in the deceased’s name is also completely acceptable.

Photo: 123rf/Studio Porto Sabbia

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