The knee-jerk reaction, whenever there is a loss in a community, is to send flowers and a card expressing sympathy to the family. But this isn’t always the best approach. Not only can flowers seem insincere, but there are much better options that can be more meaningful and practical for the bereaved. If you are in the unfortunate position of losing a friend or acquaintance and want to do something nice for the family, what do you send in lieu of flowers? Not sure what in lieu of flowers means? Check out our article here.
What To Send When Someone Dies Instead Of Flowers.
There are two routes that you can take when a friend or loved one is bereaved. One is to focus on offering something for the service itself. This could be a decorative piece or something else from the heart to showcase what the deceased meant to those in attendance. It could also be something that simply makes the day a little easier. The alternative approach is to focus on those most deeply affected, such as the spouse/partner. Here, you can focus on what may help them through a more long-term situation. There are examples of both below. Before that, let’s look at why flowers may be a bad idea.
Why Might Flowers Be A Bad Idea For The Bereaved?
Flowers are a common gesture in many customs when a gift is expected in some form. But, that doesn’t always mean that they are appropriate. There are traditions where flowers are frowned upon, such as when sitting shiva in the Jewish faith. There is also the simple fact that a widow may receive more flowers than they know what to do with, when other gifts could be more practical and heartfelt. Flowers are pretty, but only for a short while. Soon they discolor and wilt and remind us of the fragility of life. They may also be a nightmare for those sensitive to the fragrance or any pollen.
5 Funeral Gift Ideas Instead Of Flowers.
The first route is to give something that will be of greater interest or benefit during the ceremony or on the day of. The right gesture could help make a tough day a little easier and help you express yourself more easily.
1) A Book Of Condolence.
When every friend or family member gives a bouquet of flowers with a note, they can all get lost in a sea of blooms. A book of condolence is a great alternative where you can gather the same kinds of messages from lots of well-wishers. This book then becomes a keepsake that families can look back on as needed during the grieving process. You may also find the process therapeutic yourself.
2) A Poem.
If you prefer to do something a little more personal to express your feelings, a poem is a great idea. You can write one dedicated to your lost friend that shines a positive light on their life and legacy, one that speaks more to the family as a means of comfort, or perhaps one that is more about grief, loss, and the emotions of the day. You can either pass this to the family, read it out at the service, or both.
3) Offer To Write The Eulogy.
If you have a lot to say, but poetry isn’t quite your thing, you could offer to write the eulogy for a fuller story and celebration of your friend’s life. Just be aware that spouses may not be keen to pass this important task on if they aren’t certain you will get the tone right. Listen to their concerns and wants and find solutions where you can both say what needs to be said. You can find more guidance on writing a eulogy in this article.
4) A Bottle Of Something For A Suitable Toast.
This one is very much dependent on the style of the ceremony and the tastes of all those involved. Some families may not appreciate the idea of an alcoholic toast following a somber service, while others will be more than keen to open a bottle of something special in celebration of the deceased’s life. Think about what they would have liked one last shot of and raise that to them.
5) Take The Family Out For a Meal Afterwards.
One of the many stresses of dealing with a wake is the idea of catering to family, friends, and maybe work acquaintances we’ve never met. A basic spread of sandwiches and finger food isn’t that fulfilling for the family either. So, why not offer to take them to a restaurant for a nice meal where they don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone and can take their mind off things for a moment.
5 Ideas To Send As Bereavement Gift Instead Of Flowers.
The other approach is to give a gift for the family to bring them comfort and make things a little easier following the funeral. Many well-wishers will offer sympathy and flowers for one day only. These gifts last a lot longer for greater impact.
1) A Plant Instead Of A Floral Arrangement.
One alternative to flowers is to gift a plant of some kind. There are pros and cons here. On the one hand, you still have something that requires care, could die, and may provide the same issues with pollen, fragrance, and dirt. On the other, you have something that is longer-lasting and could bring new life to a home. You may also like the idea of a plant that will provide added benefits like fruit where families can think of their loved ones each season. The alternative here is to offer to pay for a tree for a grander tree-planting ceremony and memorial somewhere.
FTD Vibrant Sympathy Planter
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2) A Scrapbook Of Memories And Photos.
The scrapbook works similarly to the book of condolence in that it can be a more permanent object that families can look at often. This lets you be a little more creative with what you use and themes, rather than a more traditional written account of messages and signatures. This one can also be more personal. Perhaps the family concerned spent summer vacations with yours over the years or attended holiday gatherings. A collection of photos and memorabilia from those times will be a nice way to remember better days.
3) A Different Piece Of Artwork.
Those of you are that are more artistically gifted may prefer to go further with a piece of artwork – either fine art, sculpture, or something else to memorialize your friend. This could be a painting of somewhere special or a portrait. You may even wish to make something that could be on display at the grave or to hold ashes. Talk with the family first to see what they might like to commission from you – free of charge, of course.
4) A Food Or Spa-themed Hamper.
This relates to the idea before of keeping the family pampered and well-fed during this difficult time. They may not have the time or energy to cook or indulge in nicer foods. So, a nice hamper of goodies may go down well. This could be anything from coffee or chocolates to cheese or meats, as long as they will enjoy it. The same goes for any spa-themed hampers. A little luxury on any theme will be appreciated.
Sympathy Gift Basket – FedEx
from: Flowers Fast.com-Send Flowers Same Day Delivery
5) A Subscription To A Practical Service Of Some Kind.
A hamper is great as a short-term luxury food item. However, a subscription service could be a time-saver for those that now find themselves as single parents struggling to cook. Alternatively, you might want to consider a subscription to a cleaning service, an entertainment package for the kids, or something else. Just make sure it is something that will be well-received and not seen as unwanted charity. Tread lightly.
Giving A Donation Instead Of Flowers.
The alternative to these sorts of physical gifts is to donate to charity. This may be something that the family of the deceased has asked for, in which case it makes sense to honor their wishes. However, you may wish to speak with them about creating a donation for a specific charity. Asking for permission shows a deeper level of respect and allows for suggestions.
The recipient could be a cause close to both of your hearts, which would be doubly poignant, or perhaps something related to the circumstances of the death. For example, families may wish to see money go to a hospice or charity that helped your friend in the latter stages of an illness. Or, you may decide to give money to a research charity to help prevent further deaths from similar causes. Whatever the choice, be sure to note the reason for the donation as a means of memorializing your friend when writing the check.
This is just a selection of ideas to inspire you during this difficult time. Hopefully, one or more prove useful and are well-received by all concerned. As long as you take the time to find what suits your feelings and relationship with the deceased, while also listening to the wishes and concerns of the family, you should be fine.
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