Coming up with a tactful, loving gift is challenging. You want to express your sympathy, but you may be worried about making the parents feel worse. Many agree that the death of their child is quite unlike any other in its acute sadness and profound loss. If you have some close friends who have dealt with the death of a child, it can be difficult to approach with sensitivity and empathy.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Holiday Gifts for Parents Who Lost a Child
- Memorial Gifts for Parents Who Lost a Child
- Death Anniversary Gifts for Parents Who Lost a Child
After all, you want to alleviate some of their pain, knowing that there’s no way to make it better. But you can soothe their grief by supporting them, and giving them gifts that gently remember their child, and what a great person they were during their time on this earth.
Giving a thoughtful and sensitive memorial gift that helps them honor their child is one step in the right direction.
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Holiday Gifts for Parents Who Lost a Child
Holiday gifts can be hard to pick for dear friends. Safe options like food or gift cards are tried and true, but what if you want to do something more unique?
1. Embroidered childhood drawings
Childhood drawings are cherished by every parent, with crayon scribbles often displayed on the fridge, or stored in a memory box. If their child has died, these drawings are especially treasured.
However, these drawings are delicate and difficult to preserve. Water damage, fires, or a simple accident in the kitchen could ruin the drawing forever. Preserving the drawing forever is a thoughtful thing to do.
Options like laminate don’t make for great house decor, though. If you enjoy crafting, consider embroidery. Use the child’s drawing as a pattern and create a cross-stitch project. This can be framed and hung on a wall.
What you'll need: An embroidery kit, like this embroidery kit for beginners.
2. DIY memory box
Many people don’t have a set place to store their most precious memories. If it’s not an item that can be hung on a wall, or too sentimental to be casually displayed on a dresser, it’s hard to know what to do with it. Some use shoe boxes, plastic bags, or large envelopes for smaller items.
But it’s hard to sort through memories when the mood strikes. Finding a beautiful storage solution is a great gift choice. Many small chests in antique stores are made of handcrafted wood, and can provide some real value in their own history and design. If you love woodworking or other solid forms of crafting, you can make your own memory box.
If you aren't sure how to make a memory box yourself, ready-made shadow boxes, like this set of two walnut shadow boxes, will do the trick.
3. Monogrammed necklace
Many people love wearing jewelry, especially if it holds aesthetic or sentimental appeal. Purchasing a necklace with their kid’s initials worked in is a great way to keep them close.
4. Charitable donations
Tragically, some kids pass away from terminal illnesses. Cancer, leukemia, and other issues continue to claim many children’s lives.
If this is the case for your friend’s child, consider making a donation to a children’s hospital or dedicated organization. Supporting medical professionals to continue their research is a great gift to remember their child during the holidays.
Some parents might not like a sculpture of their child. If so, consider other options. Did their child have a favorite classic book character? Did they have a favorite animal? Those might be more subtle options for a sculpture.
Memorial Gifts for Parents Who Lost a Child
Memorial gift options can range from necklaces to subscription baskets. No matter what you have in mind, there’s probably sympathy gift ideas that fit your wishes and can give support to your friends or loved ones.
6. Custom gift baskets
Many companies assemble custom gift baskets for grieving parents. Some of these are specifically mom-oriented, so double-check before you make a purchase.
After working with thousands of grieving parents, some of these companies have curated information on what parents find most helpful or touching in these situations. You can also pay for a gift subscription box. If you’d prefer a one-time option, you can often categorize them by your specific need, like a cheese and charcuterie gift box or a basket of healthy snacks.
7. Footprint necklaces
If a child was old enough to walk around, parents often preserve footprints in plaster casts. These can make a cute addition to a garden walk. If the family moves, it may be difficult to take these memories with them.
Creating a miniature version of their child’s footprints can be a sweet and thoughtful gesture. Putting them on a necklace keeps these childhood footprints always close to a parent’s heart. You can find several styles and price points on Amazon.
8. Memorial quilt
Snuggling under a handmade quilt is a cozy and heartwarming way to remember someone. If you’re crafty, ask the parents if you could sew a quilt made of their child’s clothes.
Transforming their child’s clothes into a warm quilt can be a beautiful and useful gift that can last for years. If you want to do it yourself, buy a first-time quiltmaking set.
9. Intertwined rings
Jewelry is a popular memorial option because it’s with you every day. Jewelry shows personal taste and also a visual heartfelt reminder. A jeweler can create rings etched with the intertwined initials of the parent and child.
It can also be two hearts or two figures of a parent and a child. Whatever designs strike your fancy, or if you prefer custom-made items, you can find a jeweler or store to make your request.
10. Weighted teddy bear or blanket
Some people love stuffed animals, well into adulthood, and it’s easy for parents to crave their infant child in their arms. While there is no substitute for that, some companies do manufacture comforting stuffed animals targeted for adults.
Some produce teddy bears that are custom made. After you submit information, including the weight of the infant at the date of death, they manufacture a teddy bear that matches that exact weight.
If you can't wait for a custom bear, a weighted blanket in a cozy material should work as well.
Death Anniversary Gifts for Parents Who Lost a Child
Many people feel lost after the initial wave of support ends. Remembering the anniversary of their loss is a great way to show you care.
11. Ceramic tiles
Maybe you love the idea of a personalized craft, but you aren’t very artistic. If that’s the case, have no fear! Custom cut ceramic tiles are easy to make and are great to display.
No matter what you choose, pick a high-quality picture, and get it printed to match the size and shape of the ceramic tile. You can use Modge Podge or other decoupage glues to make sure the picture adheres to the tile. After a few coats, the tile will be virtually damage-proof, and the memory can remain intact.
If you want to paint the tiles yourself, pick up a ceramic tile kit and paint them with markers, acrylic paint, resin, or alcohol ink.
12. Photo albums
If you spent a lot of time around your friend’s child, you may have collected a lot of photographs that parents may not have seen. Even if they’re not professional-level quality, they will still be cherished.
Putting together a display of these photos is a special gesture, and giving a physical keepsake is a tactile comfort for a grieving parent.
You can find photo albums at several price points on Amazon.
13. Create a custom drawing
Some people are gifted with great artistic talent. If you’re one of them, you can make a treasured gift for the parents. In the old days, many people used to commission portraits of themselves and their children.
This artistic approach has a lot more soul than a photograph. It’s a truly personalized gift from you, as well as an artistic reminder of their child’s joy and personality. If you have the skill to pull off a custom painting or drawing of their child, you can even frame it for display.
14. Create a playlist
Many parents have special memories associated with songs. From the first song their child wanted on repeat, or what they listened to while pregnant, music can trigger powerful memories.
If this is the case, consider putting together a playlist. Maybe they’d love the ease of a Spotify playlist. If they’re old school, maybe put together an old-fashioned mixtape.
Giving a Meaningful Gift
Coming up with the perfect gift is hard at the best of times. Do they already have something? Will they like it? What if they regift it the next day? All these thoughts are doubled when trying to brainstorm gift ideas.
Coming up with something that’s full of memories and heart is the most important part. Pairing your gift with heartfelt condolences or sympathy messages will make it a unique, special item for grieving parents.