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Beyond Flowers: Creative And Unique Ways To Express Condolences

Here are some ways to ease a friend’s pain that won’t feel impersonal.

Extending condolences to friends or coworkers can be tough. You risk seeming callous or uncaring if you do nothing, but the usual route of sending a card and flower, while thoughtful, can appear like you’re just going through the motions. To that end, here are some out-of-the-box ideas for sending condolence in unexpected and thoughtful ways.

A Memorial Garden Stone

memorial garden stepping stone

A memorial stone gives you the opportunity to engrave a thoughtful and personal message — so it does all the work of a sympathy card, but feels more substantial and permanent. Some companies even offer wind chimes and other ornaments that are meaningful without seeming mournful.

A Tree

memorial trees

What better way to celebrate someone’s life than to give their grieving loved ones a living tree in their memory? A company called Seeds of Life provides trees that can be planted in memory of the deceased.

A Book

memorial book

Maybe you have a lot of photos of the deceased that their loved ones don’t have — sharing them is a great way to let them know you’re thinking about them with a deeply genuine personal touch. PastBook walks you through the process of creating a digital book experience or you can choose to use one of their professional designers for a more lasting printed book.

A Donation

Does your friend (or their deceased loved one) have a favorite charity? An organization that they supported? You can always make a donation in their name as way of ensuring that their devotion to the cause carries on. It’s a powerful way to honor their life’s pursuits.

A Vacation

vacation calendar

Some companies, including Google, allow employees to donate their paid vacation pays to another employee. So what better way to help a friend going through a rough patch than by allowing them to take some time away to clear their head? It’s not only incredibly thoughtful, but it shows how much you value their friendship (and their well-being) through a simple but meaningful sacrifice.

Something for the Little Ones

stuffed animal basket

A mourning period can be tough on people with young children, so show your sympathy by helping out the kids. Think of the age and interest of the children — a stuffed animal (to cuddle with for comfort), a journal (to express feelings), coloring books, activity books, movies, or video games (to occupy themselves when everyone else is busy) are all ways to make the kids feel considered while their parents deal with funerals and other related details.


chicken dinner

Usually, people going through the process of funerals and burials forget that they still have to take care of themselves. Remind them that there are people still thinking about this life but ordering through meal delivery services such as any of the registries listed here.

One Last Hurrah

flyers letter of condolences

Was the deceased a true-blue, diehard season-ticket-holding fan of a professional sports team? You can reach out to the organization to alert them of the death of one of their loyal fans and most — like the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, for example — will send a sympathy letter on behalf of the franchise. It’s surprisingly touching and speaks to your knowledge of your friend or co-workers lives outside of work. [Photo Source: Imgur]

Related: How To Offer Help When Someone Experiences A Loss

  • Funeral Etiquette
  • Grief Support & Loss
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