In many cultures, it’s tradition to send a floral tribute directly to the bereaved, but sometimes, sympathy flowers just don’t seem like the right way to show you care. Some people simply don’t like flowers, some think them to be a waste and some people may become upset when they begin to wilt. Perhaps you just want to do something a little more unique and long lasting as a tribute to your loved one.
Here are some alternatives to funeral flowers.
Jewellery pieces which store a small amount of a loved one’s ashes can make a wonderful gift for a grieving friend. Unlike flowers, cremation jewellery such as lockets for ashes will last forever and require little to no maintenance. Cremation jewellery serves as a beautiful memorial to a loved one, it can be worn every day and even handed down as a treasured family heirloom.
Families are often bombarded with food right after losing a loved one, so you may want to wait for some time to pass before dropping dishes off. Some families really appreciate the gift of food, as they might not feel up for cooking and may forget to eat properly. Be thoughtful about the kind of food you drop off, make yourself aware of any allergies, intolerances or religious restrictions and drop off meals in single serving sizes that can be easily stored in the fridge or frozen.
It may be a good idea to drop off a basket of non-perishable food that the family can pick at without having to worry about an expiration date.
Real flowers don’t last long, so why not get the family a plant as a long lasting memorial. You could get a potted plant, or maybe even a small tree or shrub if the family have space in their garden.
It’s important that you don’t choose a plant with specific care instructions, as the bereaved probably has enough to deal with already.
Some people find lighting candles to be a big comfort as they create a calming atmosphere in which one can take time to relax and reflect. Candles are traditionally associated with mourning and there are even some candles and candle gifts sets that are specifically designed with inscriptions or images to comfort those who are grieving.
A memorial guest book
Get in contact with friends and family, and ask them to write down something nice about the deceased and compile them in a book along with some photos that the immediate family don’t already have. Friends and family could write a letter, share a funny memory, or just explain how the deceased touched their life. The immediate family are bound to appreciate and be comforted by the book for years to come.
Think of all the photos you’ve had taken in your life, there are probably so many out there that you’ve never seen! Consider contacting friends and family of the deceased and put together a photo album of all the photos the immediate family don’t have.
Something special for the children
Buying a small, soft toy can bring a young child an enormous amount of comfort after losing a loved one. Children often feel confused and left out when others are grieving, so having something to cuddle will not only help them, but their parent/s too. If the children are older, you may want to get them something a little more age appropriate, like a notebook or maybe a blanket.
A blanket or pillow
Blankets and pillows provide both physical and emotional comfort. There are ranges which are specifically designed for people who are grieving, these may include images of angles or perhaps an empowering quote. If you really want to go the extra mile for your friend or family member, you could customise the pillow or blanket yourself. Some people will cut up old items of clothing belong to the deceased and sew the pieces together to make a blanket – it is absolutely vital that you ask permission before doing this however.
A Self-Care gift
People who are grieving and are busy making funeral arrangements often forget to properly take care of themselves. Self-care gifts could include vouchers for a massage, a beauty treatment or perhaps a gift box or basket with bath salts, a candle, or a nice moisturiser for example. You could also give them a CD, DVD or a book, perhaps there’s one that you know helped you after losing a loved one.
“In lieu of flowers”
Sometimes, families will give you instructions on what to send instead of flowers, perhaps they’ll ask you to donate to a particular charity or maybe they’ll ask for some help covering the funeral costs.
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