12 Simple or DIY Catholic Sympathy Gift Ideas

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When someone dies, people instinctively try to reach out to their loved ones to help them feel better. They may send condolence cards or drop off hot meals. They may also pick out sympathy gifts to help lift someone’s spirits.

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If you have a Catholic friend or loved one who is in mourning, you may not be sure what kind of gift is appropriate to give. We’ve rounded up several simple and DIY sympathy gift ideas for Catholics. 

Catholic Sympathy Gifts You Can Get Delivered

Having gifts delivered can be a great way to show support without intruding on someone’s grief. When a gift is delivered, it gives the recipient the chance to reach out for more support when they’re ready. Delivery gifts are also practical for friends who live far away. 

1. Personalized rosary beads

Independent artisans on websites like Etsy are a great resource when you’re looking to deliver a special sympathy gift for a Catholic. Several different artists offer customized rosary beads as a gift.

In Catholicism, the Rosary is a set of prayers. Rosary beads are an ornamental chain featuring several beads. Some of them also feature a crucifix, although that’s often a matter of personal preference.

Each rosary bead on the chain corresponds to a particular prayer. Prayers need to be recited in a certain order, so people can use the rosary beads to make sure they’re saying the right prayer at the right time. 

Look on sites like Etsy for personalized rosary beads. Artists can add a photo of the deceased to the rosary chain. They may also be able to add silver discs with religious sympathy quotes or other comforting sayings. This imbues rosary beads, which are already special, with extra meaning.  

2. Books on Catholicism and grieving

Grief is simultaneously a universal concept and a unique event. Most people have experienced grief firsthand, but each person experiences it in their own way. Many people turn to self-help books about loss and grieving when faced with the death of a loved one.

If you think your loved one may benefit from a book on grieving, look for ones that speak closely to their heart and their faith. There are several different titles on the market that help people reconcile their grief with their Catholic faith.  

3. Patron saint medal 

In Catholicism, people believe in patron saints. A patron saint is a figure that is known as a heavenly protector or advocate that can intercede on the behalf of others. Their help usually comes in one specific realm.

One example of famous saints is Saint Anthony, who is the patron saint of lost things. If you’ve lost a valuable or sentimental item, you might pray to St. Anthony for its return.

People will often wear a medal featuring a patron saint to help them through a variety of situations. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patron saint of grief, so a medal depicting her would make a beautiful sympathy gift. 

4. Memorial garden stone

Many Catholics will visit cemeteries frequently to feel close to a deceased loved one. But that isn’t always a possibility. Some people live far away from a cemetery where their loved one is interred, or have limited mobility.

A memorial garden stone is a thoughtful gift for people who might not be able to visit a gravesite as often as they want. You can get them inscribed with a memorial quote. In this instance, a Catholic Bible verse might be a good choice.  

ยป MORE: Grief is a form of remembrance. This complete post-loss checklist is your guide to honoring their legacy.

 

DIY Catholic Sympathy Gift Ideas

A handmade gift often feels more intimate and personal than something store bought. If you’re the crafty type, these DIY sympathy gifts are a thoughtful choice.

5. Handmade felt doll

We’ve talked a little bit about how significant saints are in the Catholic faith. It’s unsurprising then that they feature in so many examples of Catholic iconography. From paintings to candles to medals, saints are well-represented in stores that sell Catholic gifts. You can even make gifts that represent the saints.

There are many tutorials online for making felt dolls. You’ll need the following items:

  • Brown felt
  • Black felt
  • White felt
  • Wooden clothespin
  • String or twine
  • Hot glue

Find an online tutorial and make a felt doll in the likeness of an appropriate saint. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is the patron saint for the loss of parents, so she would make a thoughtful gift for someone who has lost their mom or dad. 

6. Homemade Catholic prayer book

While you could purchase a book with prayers for grieving people, it can feel far more significant to create a book like that. Pick up a decorative journal and nice pens, and write out some prayers by hand in the early pages for your loved one.

If you don’t know where to begin, here are several psalms that are meant to uplift grieving people:

  • Psalm 9:9
  • Psalm 18:2
  • Psalm 27:4-5
  • Proverbs 14:32

The recipient can read your handwritten words and feel connected and comforted. Over time they may want to add more prayers of their own.  

7. DIY memory jar 

A memory jar is always a thoughtful gift. It allows people to write down memories of a lost loved one. Then they can pull out those pieces of paper whenever they feel the need to reflect on happier times.

Pick out a nice decorative jar with a Catholic symbol like a cross. Include slips of paper so the recipient can begin to fill the jar with cherished memories. 

8. Handmade faux flower cross

The cross is an important symbol in Catholicism. It represents both the death and resurrection of Jesus. Many Catholic homes feature crosses hung up on walls. You can make a beautiful floral cross for someone who is grieving.

Many websites sell crosses made out of floral foam. Get silk flowers and hot glue the heads of them to the cross. You can look up Catholic flower symbolism and choose flowers with a deep meaning. This makes a thoughtful gift that will last long after the funeral flowers have wilted.   

Inexpensive, Store-Bought Catholic Sympathy Gift Ideas

If you’d like to purchase a gift for a Catholic friend or family member, you don’t have to break the bank. These affordable gifts have a small price tag but carry a lot of meaning.  

9. Laminated prayer cards

In the Catholic tradition, adherents use prayer cards or holy cards on momentous occasions. These cards typically feature a religious image on one side and a particular verse or prayer on the back.

They might be handed out on joyous occasions in honor of a First Communion or a wedding. They might also be handed out for more somber occasions, like a funeral. Prayer cards are often laminated so they will stand up to repeated handling. 

Look for an online store that specializes in Catholic gifts, and look for the “comfort for those who mourn” prayer card. This particular card can be purchased on multiple sites for less than a dollar, but it still provides comfort.

10. Pocket stone or token

Many Catholics rely on concrete tools to help ground them in their faith. One such tool is a pocket stone or token. These items can be made of acrylic or metal. Catholics can reach into their pocket and feel the stone or worry it between their fingers.

Many online stores that carry Catholic gifts will offer pocket stones or tokens for a nominal price, often less than $5. Healing pocket stones that feature St. Pio are a popular choice for someone in mourning.

It’s important to remember though that pocket stones should be blessed by a priest before use, otherwise they can be viewed as superstitious.  

If you're looking for something more solid and tangible, companies like Parting Stone create beautiful, handheld cremation stones to help someone grieving keep their loved one close by. 

11. Prayer candle

In Catholicism, prayer is strengthened by lighting a candle. Many practicing Catholics will continue to light candles for years in honor of their deceased loved ones.

While you can get custom prayer candles, they can be costly. But many websites sell inexpensive more general prayer candles. You can source an Our Lady of Perpetual Help candle for as little as $4. The recipient can light it and ask Mother Mary to guide them through their grief.       

12. Memorial ornament

The holidays can be difficult after someone has experienced the death of a loved one. Cherished holiday traditions can feel empty when someone is missing. A memorial Christmas ornament is a great sympathy gift, as it allows the deceased to hold a place of honor amidst the celebration.

Angels are important figures in Catholicism, so try to choose an ornament that is shaped like an angel or angel wings. This adds an extra layer of meaning to the gift. You can also get a custom engraving added to a wood or metal ornament for a nominal fee. 

Sympathy Gifts for Catholics are Affordable and Accessible

Finding the perfect sympathy gift isn’t always easy. It can be even more challenging finding a comforting gift for someone who has a belief system that you aren’t familiar with.

A Catholic funeral is distinctly different from funerals for other religions. It stands to reason that a Catholic sympathy gift might also hold its own significance. The gifts listed here should give you a better idea of appropriate gifts to give to a Catholic loved one in mourning.    

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