April 3, 2024

What to Include in a Care Package for a Grieving Friend

by Lanna Britt

On the topic of creating a sympathy care package the familiar Nike slogan comes to mind, “Just do it.” Here, we’ll offer dozens of ideas on how to thoughtfully put together a care package for a grieving friend. From high end speciality items to affordable treats that could easily be found at your local drug store, don’t get too caught up in the actual gifts. At the end of the day, the goal of a care package for a death in the family or any sort of loss is to let your friend or loved one know you acknowledge their loss and want to support them.

Understanding the Grieving Process

Grief is universal, but it is also unique. Each of us grieves in our way. However, there are five specific stages of grief that generally apply to the grieving process. They include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. It’s important to note that each and every grief journey is different and individuals may experience these stages out of order or for shortened or extended periods of time. Give your friend time and space and understand how grief can irrevocably change someone. Don’t try to “fix” their grief, just sit with them in it. 

Selecting the Right Items

Here are some ideas that could go in a condolences care package for a death in the family or someone experiencing a loss. 

Comfort items

  • Soft blankets or throws
  • Aromatherapy candles or essential oils
  • Comfortable clothing (e.g., cozy socks or a comforting sweater)

Self-care items

Hobby Items

Personalized Touch

Take a few minutes and consider your friend. Does she have specific likes and dislikes that you know of? Have you heard her mention personal stories or events you could use as a jumping off point to choose a thoughtful gift? Don’t be afraid to include sentimental items that might “remind” her of the person she lost. So many people are afraid to bring up the deceased or talk about them for fear of reminding the surviving person of their loss. Spoiler alert, they won’t forget about the person. They probably want to be reminded of them and have a chance to talk about how meaningful they were.Photos, letters and small mementos can be a thoughtful inclusion to any sympathy care package. Always keep in mind cultural or religious considerations and be respectful of their beliefs and traditions.  

Nourishment for the Body and Soul

During the initial shock of a death, it’s so easy to “forget” to take care of yourself. Mealtimes come and go. Sleep can be elusive. The extent of exercise might be walking from the couch to the bathroom to the bed. In the days after we lost our second son Cooper at full term, my former coworkers were incredibly thoughtful and sent two weeks worth of prepared meals to our family knowing we wouldn’t be up for cooking. It was both thoughtful and practical. You could include gift cards to restaurants, easy-to-prepare meals or even a collection of healthy snacks. Herbal teas and comforting beverages (wine, included ;) are good options. Include a heartfelt note or card with words of support in your package, too. Don’t stress too much over the words on the page. Something as simple as, “I am so sorry for your loss. Know that you are being thought about and prayed over. I hope this small care package reminds you that you aren’t alone.” 

Practical Considerations

After a death, people often – with good intentions – say something like, “Let me know how I can help!” or “Reach out if you need anything!” However, in most cases, the griever won’t voice a need. I’ve found it helpful to list specific ways and then follow up once. “I’d love to offer my support. Can I drop off some groceries, swing by to fold laundry, or mow your yard one day this week?” Funeral preparations and the “business” of death can be full of decisions and tasks. Don’t expect the grieving individual to want to make any more decisions. Just pick up some items you think they’d use and leave them on the porch with a brief, “Dropped off some treats on the porch. We love you!” text and call it a day. Even Starbucks coffee and a cake pop (I’m a sucker for a good cake pop) delivered to a front door can communicate so much love and support. It could also be helpful to research contact information for local support groups or therapists specializing in grief. Even if the person doesn’t pursue those options, you were thoughtful to share them. Grief resources are a great gift to include in sympathy care packages as well. Books like A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis or, if you know it would be appreciated, you could give a beautiful copy of The Psalms from Alabaster Bibles. So many of the Psalms deal with mourning, grief and difficult seasons.

Delivery and Presentation

Consider the timing of the grief care package. If the items inside could be useful during a busy week, maybe dropping it off before the funeral could be helpful. If you know the items are more reflective/self-care focused, maybe a few weeks after the loss would be more meaningful. Making things look beautiful is *not* one of my strengths. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t skip the presentation in the gift-giving process, and neither should you. Find a reusable basket from HomeGoods and consolidate the gifts and include some of that crinkle paper and voila - pretty and functional! Don’t be afraid to throw in an assortment of drug store items with little Post-It notes. On a box of tissues write, “For the sad moments.” On some Milano cookies write, “For the hungry moments.” Include inexpensive items that are useful too like smell-good hand sanitizer, a bottle of sparkling water and some nice travel hand cream. Grab a blank card and write a few heartfelt lines. As I mentioned before, don’t overcomplicate it. Also, keep in mind that when you send a laurelbox, we take the presentation pressure off completely! Every laurelbox gift is sent with our premium packaging and I can attest from someone who has received dozens of laurelbox gifts, they are thoughtfully prepared and beautifully packaged! 

A sympathy care package is a wonderful way to show support to a grieving friend. All laurelboxes come with premium packaging like this beautiful box I received last fall. 


We hope this blog inspired you to find the perfect way to support your grieving friend with a care package. Grief can feel unbelievably lonely at times so your thoughtful sympathy care package could really deliver hope. It’s not what’s inside the grief care package, it’s that it communicates empathy and compassion. We’d love to hear from you! Do you have any grief care package ideas we left out? Has someone sent you a sympathy care package that was exactly what you needed at that moment? Let us know via social media or send us an email at info@laurelbox.com


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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