Gifts for the Grieving

2014-08-25_3481---CopyHave you experienced the awkward feeling of not knowing what is appropriate to give to the grieving at the time of loss?  If you choose flowers, what kind and color should they be?  When selecting a card, which sentiment will be the best?  Should we give money, or contribute to a memorial fund?

It’s not this way for everyone, but for me, the out pouring of flowers did not bring me comfort.  Instead, our home reminded me of a florist shop.  I didn’t want flowers, I wanted my son!  A broken heart is driven by pain, and pain causes us to experience things differently than when living is at ease.  I found the cards somewhat comforting, but at times they seemed obligatory; and maybe some of them were.

But a few gifts stand out in my mind as beautifully helpful and genuinely caring.  One such gift was a book sent to me in the mail a couple of weeks after our son’s funeral.  The letter that accompanied it was hand written with a personal testimony about the powerful effect the book had once had on the sender.  That encouraged me to pick it up and read it.  The message from that book stays with me to this day.  Another gift came from the mother of one of my best high school friends.  She invited me out to lunch and there she shared her personal story of the downing death of her dear baby girl in their back yard pool.  I had known the family for years and was completely unaware of their tragedy.  Her gift was the assurance that we would survive this life-changing loss.  I treasured her vulnerability with me.

Here is a short list of other gifts you could consider giving the grieving:

  • Visit the grave or mausoleum and leave a card or note in a zip lock baggie
  • Offer to assist with yard work, or bill paying
  • Take them golfing or fishing AND be prepared to listen to their story
  • Pay for a grief coach
  • Give a book that you can personally recommend by your own experience*
  • Write a card, letter or email of encouragement for the next 12 months
  • Call on a regular basis and offer to pray with them before saying “good bye.”
  • Take the children to the park or zoo.  Let them know you miss their mommy or daddy and are willing to talk about their feelings ~ then mostly listen.

Whatever we give, the most important aspect is to be genuine, willing to go the distance, and be honest with our own fears or apprehensions.  Keep in mind that this gift is not about us, BUT everything about the one we are reaching out toward.  I am sure many of you have sensitive and beautiful ideas for gifting the grieving. Please feel free to share so that this network of care can be ever expanded.

*May I recommend my book, Comfort for the Day, if you would like to give a book that will guide the bereaved through their grieving seasons.

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