What sympathy gifts can you send a family besides flowers?

It is a complaint we have heard over and over again – grieving people are absolutely flooded with flowers after they lose a loved one. For many people, watching the flowers slowly wither after the funeral ends, and then cleaning up the leftover flowers, can be a traumatic physical reminder of the loss of their loved one. 

And while there can be a time and place for flowers, many people have moved away from the tradition of sending flowers to a funeral home or church after a loved one passes away. It has become increasingly common for the bereaved family to request that well meaning friends and family withhold from sending flowers. So if you are looking to support someone who is grieving, but want to stay away from the tired trope of sending flowers, we have put together a great list of our favorite sympathy gifts other than flowers. From unique gifts for loss of loved one to what to send for sympathy support, we hope these ideas help you support your family and friends.

Donation in their name

One of the most simple but unique bereavement gifts you can give is a donation in the name of the person who has passed away. Sometimes families will make it easy for you to choose a nonprofit by specifying that you donate to a specific charity “in lieu of flowers.” You can check for that information easily on the obituary or webpage dedicated to information about the service or funeral. 

If the family does not specify a charity, you can still give a very special donation if you are looking for what to send instead of flowers. Be creative as you choose a cause to donate to in honor of the person who has passed away. If they loved hiking and the outdoors, you can donate to local organizations that preserve the wild places that they loved. If they had personally rescued an animal from a shelter, you can donate to your local Humane Society and their work. If they were involved in their church, you can donate to a fund that will help support the work of that community. 

A gift basket or box

If you are looking for truly unique memorial gift ideas, a gift basket or laurelbox gift can be a great idea of what to send instead of flowers for sympathy. From thoughtful keepsakes, to personalized candles, to remembrance necklaces, and intentional self care gifts, laurelbox makes it simple to build a totally customized sympathy gift that is heartfelt. The gifts at laurelbox are hand made and hand packaged with care  by their team, so you can rest assured that the creative unique sympathy gifts you choose are packaged beautifully and will feel like a thoughtful gift for your friend. 

You can also build your own gift basket by picking up items at your local store or grocery. While this may take more time and effort on your part, it is a great way to ensure you are sending a truly unique sympathy gift. 


When you’re wondering what to send instead of flowers, it can help to sometimes remember that the most simple ideas can be the best. Physical support means the world to people in the weeks and months after losing a loved one. While it can be tempting to bring dinner or a meal to your friend immediately after the loss, sometimes grieving people are totally flooded with frozen lasagnas and baked pastas (right along with flowers!). You can make a huge difference for them in two ways – by sending them meals after the first three weeks and by finding a different and unique recipe with lots of fresh vegetables and ingredients. We recommend bringing meals to bereaved family and friends after three weeks because most people have plenty of food right after a death (during a time when the acuteness of grief can actually make eating difficult), but after three weeks the permanence of loss often starts to set in and a fresh wave of grief makes functioning difficult.

A thoughtful note with memories about the deceased

If you were close friends with the person who passed away, you can also give the family a thoughtful note with memories about their loved one. Maybe you were college friends with their loved one and you have funny stories to tell about their younger years. Perhaps you were colleagues and you can attest to their integrity and consistency in the workplace. If you were neighbors or friends from the community, you can share heartwarming stories about their supportive presence around the neighborhood.

If you do not know the family well, it can be appropriate to share these stories via a handwritten card or a thoughtful email. But if you are close friends with the family, many people find it comforting to enjoy a meal together while talking about your favorite moments with your shared loved one. No matter how you choose to share your stories, they will be treasures for the family left behind.

We hope you found this post of what to send when someone dies instead of flowers helpful! We’d love to hear any of your creative ideas in the comments!