January 8, 2024

Starting the New Year with Hope: Sympathy Gift Ideas for Those Who Have Experienced Loss

by Lanna Britt

The champagne has been popped and the glitter thrown. Goodbye, 2023 - Hello, 2024! However, if you or someone you love is carrying grief into the new year, the calendar change might not be a welcomed event. In this blog we’ll offer compassion and address what it’s like to walk into a new year with loss. We’ll also give some ideas for how you can support yourself or a loved one with thoughtful sympathy gifts that comfort and nourish the soul.

Coping with Loss During the New Year

To many, a new year brings the possibility of hope, a fresh start and renewed opportunities. Lose weight! Eat healthier! Finish that house to-do list! We’re all optimists in January :) But if you are walking into a new year without a loved one, it can be scary and overwhelming. The thought of an entire calendar year without that person can bring sadness and pain. You may be thinking getting through the holidays was hard enough, now I have to get through an ENTIRE year?? No, thank you. I’d like to go back to eating Christmas cookies and rewatching The Holiday for the 10th time. But speaking from experience, new year grief can be managed and worked through. It’s important to find the good things, even in the middle of the pain. On New Year’s Day 2017, I wrote this on Facebook, “It would be easy to look back on 2016 and see sadness, tears and hurt. I left a job I loved. We lost Cooper at 36.5 weeks. We miscarried another baby boy at 11 weeks. Our boat caught fire (I mean, what are the odds of that one??) and my sweet stepdad is struggling to win the battle against cancer. But only through Christ can we see the joy and blessings of this past year. We moved to a new city we love. Our house doubled in size and cost half as much. We went on fun trips and got a puppy. The most meaningful thing? Growing closer as a family.  2017 -- we're believing big things are to come. We choose not just to survive -- but THRIVE…” Seven years later, I can read that and be proud of 2016 Lanna. When we are grieving, it’s necessary to keep our perspective balanced. 

 I walked into 2017 wounded and grieving. But even in the middle of my pain, I had to remind myself to look for the good alongside the hard. Now seven years later, I’m so grateful for the love and support I received from friends and family during a dark and difficult season. 

Navigating a New Year in the Face of Loss

If you have a friend or family member who is grieving, they may experience unique challenges in their grief journey. Even the simple act of making New Year’s Resolutions can be depressing, as their list may look entirely different from years past. It’s important to reach out in various ways while also giving them space to grieve on their own timeline

Practical Tips for Offering Support and Comfort

We’ll get to some incredibly special sympathy gift ideas but here are some other ways to show you care and provide emotional support. 

  • Be a Good Listener - even if you’ve heard the stories before, offer your listening ear to your friend
  • Be Present - whether it’s a coffee date, a yoga meet-up, a FaceTime call or just sharing hot cocoa by a cozy fire
  • Be Empathetic - you aren’t going to fix their grief but sitting in their grief with them is an incredible gift on its own
  • Be Aware - if your friend is really struggling, suggest professional help or a grief support group

Sympathy Gifts to Offer Comfort and Support

Sympathy gifts for loss can come in all shapes, sizes and price tags. 

Personalized Keepsakes
Comforting Tokens
Inspirational Reminders
  • Books on healing and resilience - A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis is a classic
  • Inspirational wall art or quotes - lots of options on Etsy
  • Garden items for a memory garden - beautiful designs on Laurelbox
  • Journal - check out this Matisse inspired beauty from Rifle Paper Co.

Why Choose a Sympathy Gift from Laurelbox

I’m partial to Laurelbox for a number of reasons, and not just because I write for them. I’ve been sending Laurelboxes ever since I got my first one from my dear friend, Laurelbox co-founder Johanna Mutz, back in 2016. If you don’t know their story, read it here. A quick Google search of “sympathy gifts” yields numerous results from big companies. Every laurelbox is packed by hand and carefully prepared by one of our dozen team members. We intentionally source items we are proud of and know will become cherished keepsakes for years to come. 

The team of women at laurelbox

Thoughtful Gestures Beyond Gifts

The age old saying “It’s the thought that counts” is especially true with sympathy gifts for loss. The gift itself is secondary to the compassion behind it. Writing a heartfelt sympathy card or condolence letter is a great way to say happy new year to someone who lost a loved one. Let them know you realize new year grief may be difficult for them. The small act of kindness will make them feel seen and loved. Offering support through acts of service is always appreciated. That could mean taking a meal to them, delivering coffee or offering to babysit. Remember, winter days can feel long and dark. Glimmers of light and hope can mean the world to someone feeling lonely after a painful loss. Honoring someone’s legacy is another way to leave a lasting impact. Donating to a charitable cause that was close to their heart is a great way to “pay it forward” through generosity. Memorial trees can be another option. Our weeping cherry trees gifted to us in honor of our lost son bloom in the spring and bring us annual reminders of a short but important life. 


We hope this blog gives you some sympathy gift ideas that you can easily incorporate into your own life and sphere of influence. Whether you spend $100 on a sympathy gift or 50 cents on a mailed homemade sympathy card, the end goal is encouragement. Grief can be isolating, but it doesn’t have to be if we love those around us well. We’d love to hear from you how you’ve supported grieving friends and family. Have you been on the receiving end of a sympathy care package? How did it make you feel? Email us at info@laurelbox.com or find us on social media and share your story! We believe in being a force for positive change in normalizing grief and making sure each person walking through loss feels seen and loved.


Lanna Britt was a national news producer in Washington DC for nearly a decade covering politics, breaking news and current events.  She now lives with her husband and three children in Richmond VA. She has two sweet babies she’ll meet again in heaven.

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