20 Thoughtful Gift Ideas for a Recent Widow(er)

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Losing a loved one is never easy. It’s especially difficult when that loved one is your significant other or life partner. After losing a spouse, those first few days and weeks are the most challenging. 

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The only thing that makes these tragic moments easier is having the support of those you love most. If your loved one is a recent or grieving widow, the right sympathy gift goes a long way. Many of these individuals want to express their pain and feel heard. 

Though it’s intimidating to know what to say to a grieving widow, a thoughtful gift and the right message means more than you think. Being there for someone in need makes all the difference. If you’re not sure what to do for your loved one during this difficult time, these 18 thoughtful gift ideas for recent or grieving widows is for you. 

Birthday Gift Ideas for a Grieving Surviving Spouse

If your loved one is celebrating a birthday after the loss of a spouse, this can be an emotional time. This birthday might be their first without their significant other, and they’ll need a lot of help and support. Here are some gifts that help with these feelings. 

1. Home-cooked meal

Sometimes the best thing to give someone is your time and a home-cooked meal. This might be an emotional day for your loved one. Though it’s a time for celebration, it’s still a time for grief. 

Being there for them during this day and cooking one of their favorite meals is the perfect gesture. Choose a meal they love, especially something comforting, and be there with them on this day. 

2. Memorial jewelry

If your loved one has their deceased spouse's lock of hair or cremated remains, you can send them in to be turned into a memorial diamond. After a consultation and a few months of waiting for the diamond to grow, you'll have a custom diamond that you can get set on a ring, necklace, or other jewelry.

Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone. 

3. Journal and pen

Sometimes the best gift is also the simplest: reflection and time. It’s okay if your loved one isn’t ready to open up to you about their loss.

A journal and a nice pen give them space and security to get those feelings into the open. 

4. Plant

Plants are a symbol of rebirth and newness. While it’s common to send flowers to exprenice ss your sympathies after a loss, flowers are temporary. 

A sympathy plant is something that lasts a long time or even hundreds of years. Gifting a tree, small plant, or even just a succulent is a gorgeous tribute to life and remembrance. 

5. Self-care items

After a loss, it’s hard to take time for yourself. By gifting your loved one self-care items like bath bombs, soaps, oils, and so on, you remind them of the importance of putting themselves first.

By taking this time, they’ll reflect on the value of wellness. 

ยป MORE: The practical steps after a loss can be the hardest. This checklist explains everything you need to do.

 

Holiday or Christmas Gift Ideas for a Grieving Surviving Spouse

The holidays and Christmastime can also be difficult after losing someone so important. These close family members are the ones who help us celebrate the holidays, so it’s natural for them to change after losing a spouse. Help with this time of year with these gift ideas. 

6. Warm blanket

There are few things in life as comforting as a warm blanket. On those chilly nights, having something warm to wrap yourself in makes all the difference.

Get something he or she can use during all seasons as a reminder that comfort is always nearby. 

7. Baked goods

There’s something extra special about receiving baked treats during the holiday season. If you’re a skilled baker, whip up some of his or her favorites.

If not, visit your local bakery to choose the selection that’s right for them. Reaching for a sweet snack can be a big help when feeling down. 

8. Streaming service

The holidays are often challenging, especially when surrounded by so many reminders of loved ones and years past. The holidays just don’t feel the same yet. 

To help with these difficult moments, give your favorite streaming service to get your loved one’s mind off things. A few precious hours of escaping through TV and film on Netflix or Hulu can give them time to recharge just in time for the season. 

9. Book or ebook

Another welcome distraction is a book or ebook that they can turn to when they’re in need of another world.

Stepping in someone else’s shoes in a favorite story can be therapeutic, even if the narrative has nothing to do with grief or loss. 

10. Care package

If you have the time to DIY a thoughtful gift, a care package is a great idea for a grieving widow during the holidays.

A care package with self-care items, favorite foods, movies, or even just small trinkets is a fun, useful gift to receive. 

Death Anniversary or Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas for a Grieving Surviving Spouse

Another difficult occasion after the loss of a spouse is the death anniversary or wedding anniversary. This is a time for remembrance and being there. 

11. Photo album

If you think your loved one is ready to take a trip back down memory lane, a photo album is a great DIY memorial gift. Put together a small book of your favorite photos of the deceased, the family, and happy memories. 

Write in the margins, and don’t be afraid to really personalize this memory album. Leave pages blank so they can add new memories. Their story is far from over. 

12. Candle

Many people like to light candles to remember their loved ones on special days. On the anniversary of a death or a wedding, lighting a personalized candle allows for quiet reflection.

Encourage them to use that time to write a letter to their spouse, journal, or create a  memorial.

13. Charity donation

Charity is always a good idea, but it’s especially special after a loss. Gifting money or time to a charitable organization makes a touching tribute for a wedding or death anniversary.

Get friends and family together for a day of fundraising, volunteering, and sharing memories. If you can't gather in person, consider setting up a memorial fundraising page on a platform like Everloved.

14. Photo frame

A simple, inexpensive gift is a high-quality, classic photo frame. Having a few photos to remind them of their loved one is very meaningful, especially on these difficult days. Honor their spouse’s memory with a frame they can see every day. 

15. Heartfelt letter 

If you’re not afraid to put your heart on your sleeve, a heartfelt condolence letter might mean the world to them. Write about how you feel about your loved one and their bravery. 

Remind them you’ll always be there, and that you’ll be there for them even in the hard moments ahead. This is something they’ll cherish for years to come. 

Sympathy Gift Ideas for a Grieving Surviving Spouse

Finally, these sympathy gifts are always a good choice if you’re not sure what to get. These work for all occasions, especially soon after the loss. 

16. Cleaning service

If there’s a local cleaning service near you, purchase your loved one a gift card to help them with daily tasks they can’t keep up with. Their grief and feelings come first, and that means housework takes a backseat for a while. 

If you don’t have a local agency you trust, offer to help them around the house however they need. You could clean up their living space, do laundry, or just be there. 

17. Groceries

Another way to help in these first few weeks is to handle the grocery shopping on their behalf.

Whether you purchase a grocery delivery gift card or do the shopping yourself, this gives them their time back to focus on what matters more. 

18. Flowers

Don’t underestimate the power of sympathy flowers. A gorgeous bouquet is a reminder of life’s beauty even in the darkest of times.

Don’t limit yourself to funeral flowers. Choose their favorite blooming array and pair it with a heartfelt message to show you care. 

19. Coffee or tea

Those first days and weeks are the hardest. It’s common for your loved one to struggle with energy as life seems to be dragging them deeper down. Gifting your favorite coffee and a warming mug will help them do the impossible every morning—get up and keep going. 

20. Memorial box

Lastly, gift a memorial box that they can fill with all of their treasures. This is a time when they’re dealing with a lot of mixed feelings. 

They need a place where they can save things that feel meaningful to them, especially when going through their spouse’s things. A memorial box gives them a safe place to remember and grieve. 

It’s the Thought That Counts

Like with all things, it’s the thought that counts when gifting something to a widow. Losing a spouse is one of the most challenging things anyone can experience, especially if the loss was sudden. You can be there for your loved one in these key moments. 

Whether you give something to get them through a big milestone or you simply lend them a listening ear, you’re doing more than you think. How do you show up for the ones you love when you’re needed the most?

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