30+ Sympathy Gift Ideas for Someone Who Lost a Husband

Updated

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Losing a husband is difficult. Regardless of the circumstances, your family member, friend, or coworker likely lost one of their biggest supporters. There are plenty of ideas if you’re looking for a sympathy gift to express your good wishes or condolences

Overview: Our Top Picks

Gifts for a Family Member

Gifts for a Close Friend

Gifts for a Coworker or Employee

Jump ahead to these sections: 

The nature of your relationship with each of these people is likely different, as are the gift suggestions. You are the best judge of the right approach in each situation. Big and expensive gestures aren’t always the answer — your thoughtfulness is what counts. 

Ideas for a Family Member

You may have a hard time processing the death if one of your family members lost a husband. Giving a gift that you and your family member can cherish together can go a long way in the healing process. Making more time for a family member — regardless of a gift — will likely mean more to them in the long run.  

1. Plant a tree

Planting a tree in honor of your family member’s husband is a great way to give that person something physical to see. Help your family member care for the tree so that it thrives, or choose one that’s easy to maintain in your family member’s climate. 

Plant the tree in an area that makes sense or that’s special to the decedent and your family member. If your family member’s husband loved a particular park, for example, plant one there. 

It’s likely that you can organize some sort of donation and include a small plaque by the tree. If he loved to grill in the backyard, plant a tree there. Consider adding a stool or a bench so your family member can spend time at this spot. 

You can read our picks for the best memorial trees, but our favorites are Mountain Laurel Evergreen trees and the Pacific Dogwood.

2. Memorial or sympathy jewelry

If your loved one has their husband'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. 

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.

3. Create a keepsake

There are plenty of easy-to-personalize keepsakes to honor a loved one. You can have a blanket made with old T-shirts, customize a picture frame, commission a painting, a piece of art, or a garden stone, or fund a bench with a plaque.

You can also buy a sterling silver chain so that your family member can wear their husband’s wedding ring. 

4. Plan meals

Does your family member love home cooking but has a hard time making it to the grocery store?

Pay for a meal kit or cooking subscription. Many sites ship all the fresh ingredients needed. This will save your family member a lot of time and hassle. 

If that is too specific, try getting them a gift card to a grocery store like Whole Foods or Safeway.

5. Hire a housekeeper

It’s hard to find motivation to clean your house on a good day — much less in the wake of someone’s death. Consult a trusted cleaning service — ask friends, coworkers, and neighbors, and you’ll likely find someone who can help you out.

Have the cleaner visit your family member’s home as often as you see fit. You can even schedule a deep cleaning once a month. 

Your family member will be able to unwind much more in a clean, clutter-free house. Can’t afford a professional cleaner? Offer to help your family member yourself.  

6. Keep a tradition alive

Perhaps the decedent loved watching a certain sports team, grilling on Saturdays, or spending time outdoors. Offer to be there for your family member to keep a certain tradition alive or create a new one. 

Let’s say the decedent loved boating and you don’t own a boat yourself. Take your family member to the beach or to a waterfront restaurant — it’s about enjoying an activity together in honor of your loved one. 

Ideas for a Close Friend

You may have difficulty stringing together the right things to say if one of your close friends lost a husband. Don’t take it personally if your friend has a hard time reaching out to you or is reluctant to spend time with you. 

Everyone processes grief differently. The best thing you can do is make it clear that you’re available. Plan to tag along with your friend or you can simply show you care by doing the planning (and paying) for them.  

7. Organize a small getaway 

Does your friend talks about a favorite spot — near a coast, mountains, or a natural park? Invite your friend to take a day trip or even a short weekend trip with you. If your friend isn’t much of a nature person, offer to bring them to a nearby city for shopping or a museum trip. 

If trips aren't in the cards for awhile, purchase them a gift card to a service like Airbnb or Hotels.com. Throw in The Travel Book by Lonely Planet to get them inspired!

8. Book a spa day

Self-care is difficult for people who are going through hard experiences. It may be impossible to find motivation to do even the simplest things when you’re preoccupied with loss. A bit of pampering and professional attention will make your friend feel much better. 

You can plan a spa day for your friend — a massage, facial, manicure and pedicure, and haircut — or you can give your friend a gift card to use at a later date. Some salons will even make house calls. Offer to tag along so your friend relaxes and can enjoy your company. 

If a salon trip is too pricey or not in the cards, buy your friend a spa gift basket with lotions, oils, and essential oils so they can relax at home.

9. Make reservations

Tell your friend you’re bringing them to a nice meal at a favorite restaurant. Sharing a meal with good company is one of the most simple but celebrated human experiences. 

Consider requesting a more private table or making reservations when it’s less busy. Give your friend the opportunity to express feelings, too. Organize a big takeout spread instead if your friend isn’t ready or won’t appreciate an outing.

Pro tip: If their favorite restaurant isn't available or too far away, buy them a gift card to a delivery service like Uber Eats, DoorDash, or Gold Belly.

10. Make a meal

Some people don’t find cooking therapeutic or relaxing. If this sounds like your friend, not a lot of cooking is probably happening while coping with loss. 

Create a homemade meal for your friend to show you’re there for them. Or you can offer to prepare it together in either of your homes. Be sure to grab the ingredients beforehand rather than making your friend schlep to the store with you. 

11. Create a film festival

Streaming has changed the way we watch and rent movies and there’s a good chance your friend has access to the same movies you do. This is where your creativity can come into play. Spend the day with your friend and curate a list of your favorite movies. 

Crying or laughing along with a movie is a good way to experience emotions without having to really dive into feelings your friend isn’t ready to address.  

If you don't have a streaming pass, gift them a subscription to popular services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

Ideas for a Coworker or Employee

You may wonder what’s appropriate for coworkers or employees who have lost a husband. You want to comfort your coworker or employee and remain sensitive to their feelings. You may have a hard time figuring out what’s right in this situation, especially if you don’t know your colleague or employee very well. 

This is a good opportunity to ask around the office and pool your ideas and resources. Make sure you do so in a way that respects your officemate’s feelings.

Create a private group chat for the discussion if you are unable to run a meeting discreetly. No matter how well your widowed coworker or employee seems to be handling the situation, they may be having a hard time.

There’s a good chance your office mate is showing up to work to be productive and get back on a schedule, not to dwell on what’s going on. Keep your gift positive and light.

13. Keep it simple with flowers or a plant

There’s nothing wrong with the gift of a classic bouquet or desk plant, like this pack of succulents. It can keep your coworker company, especially if you choose one that's easy to maintain and lives longer. Good examples are rubber plants or snake plants. 

If your coworker is new to plant parenting, plan a watering and care schedule and come together as a group. This will keep the plant healthy and thriving. Be sure to include a sympathy note with the arrangement.

14. Cater breakfast or lunch 

An easy way to welcome a widowed coworker or employee back to the office is with a meal catered by their favorite restaurant.

It’s an easy and relatively inexpensive way to bring everyone together. Want to make it extra special? Order a basket of muffins or baked goods and a coffee and tea gift basket and send it straight to the office.

15. Plan an office outing

Plan a day or even a half-day where your office does something fun as a group. It can take the pressure off of your widowed coworker or employee.

Make sure it’s an activity that they will enjoy, such as a hike, a trip to a zoo or aquarium, ice skating, bowling, a painting class, or even a good meal as a group.

16. Send a gift basket

There are lots of gift baskets out there with unique and useful items. You can go beyond a traditional basket, such as one with cookies or snacks, and buy one filled with fruit, gourmet coffee, bread baking items, skincare of body care, gardening gear — you name it. 

Even though you’re not creating the basket yourself, there’s plenty of ways to personalize the basket with a note and custom selections.   

17. Create your own

Create your own basket among your coworkers. Have everyone bring in a small item that your widowed coworker likes. It can be as simple office supplies, snacks, coffee or tea, or a candle.

Include a sympathy card and have your coworkers sign it. The personal touches will be appreciated.

Personalized Sympathy Gift Ideas for the Loss of a Husband 

Any gesture or gift to your loved one who’s lost a husband will surely be appreciated. It’s understandable if you’d like to get them something more personal,, especially if you know they’re being overwhelmed with other gifts. The following ideas should stand out and become a treasured keepsake for your loved one thanks to a personal touch.

18. Unique art piece

Was your loved one’s husband always rattling off a quote or “ism”? Was he famous for a particular outfit? Is there an infamous photo of him your loved one cherishes? 

You can turn any of these ideas into a unique art piece, such as printed or etched glass, a painting, something ceramic, a tapestry — the list goes on. 

Look around places like Etsy for artisans who can turn memories into lasting keepsakes. You can partner with an artist to get something entirely unique, and they’ll likely bring even more special attention and ideas if you convey it’s for someone’s late husband. 

19. A custom fragrance

To create a custom fragrance, it’s important to know a few details about your loved one’s late husband. If you know of a particular cologne he loved, even better, but it’s not necessary to create something that captures his essence.

For example, grilling enthusiasts would likely enjoy a smoky scent, fishermen would likely love something with sandalwood. 

You can bring this information to a custom candle or fragrance maker and have them create something in his honor using the same or similar ingredients. 

Creating a candle in his honor will bring warmth and comfort to his spouse’s home, and a fragrance spray could help make him feel closer. 

20. Custom playing cards or gaming gear 

If your loved one’s late husband was a card enthusiast or loved a good game of darts or cornhole, getting a custom set with his initials, favorite colors, or a personalized insignia would be a great gift. 

Family and friends could gather around these pieces, likely as they did when he was alive, and be reminded of his presence. 

21. A custom leatherbound book

Custom, leather bound books make a great gift for tons of occasions. You could have your loved one’s late husband’s initials engraved into the book, an image or symbol of him, and so on. 

Depending on his interests, you could get a copy of one of his favorite titles, a religious text, a blank journal, or a photo book for storing pictures.

Holiday or Christmas Gift Ideas for a Loved One Who Lost Their Husband 

Losing a loved one can make any ordinary day difficult. However, as being with family is a major part of the holidays, they can be even tougher.

For someone who’s lost a husband, the holidays will likely lack the same cheer and warmth that they may ordinarily have. Even a good gift won’t be able entirely make up for it, but it can provide some additional comfort. 

22. Festive linens or throw pillows

Feeling physically comforted and soothed can go a long way, even in the pits of grief. Gifting your loved one with some festive linens, blankets, or throws to warm up their home can make this season a bit easier. 

This is especially true if your loved one usually hosts during the holidays, as they won’t have to do as much laundry to prepare for guests. Even if they’re not a host, they can enjoy some fresh and cozy surroundings to reduce stress. 

23. A custom wreath

Using either fresh or tasteful artificial branches, a custom wreath can bring cheer to any home. You can customize the wreath using colors their late husband liked, bits of fabric from some of his old clothing, or add a photo or two of him to the branches. 

24. Gourmet foods

The holidays are for enjoying the best of the best when it comes to food and drink. If your loved one’s late husband was the chef of the house, they may feel the pressure to provide a meal up to his standards. You can help them out by sending them a gourmet food or beverage package, like pastries, meats, or wine. 

25. Custom ornament

The possibilities are pretty endless when it comes to custom ornaments. The one you buy or create for your loved one’s late husband can be traditional or outlandish. It can even be as simple as a frame ornament with a picture of him inside.

26. Help with winter prep

If your loved one’s late husband was in charge of winterizing their home or dealing with snow, your gift can simply be to lend an extra hand during these times. 

You can help them cover up plants, shovel the sidewalk, gather firewood, grab essentials before any storms, share baked goods or cider, and so on. These small gestures can really add up, especially around the busy holiday season. 

Sympathy Gift Basket Ideas for the Loss of a Husband

There are no limits to what you can put in gift baskets. You can make them as personal or popular as you’d like, and they’re sure to please a whole crowd — or last your loved one a while if they’re the only one enjoying it.

Here are some sympathy gift basket ideas for someone who’s lost a husband to help make their days a bit brighter.

27. Sunshine-themed basket

This idea works two-fold if your loved one’s favorite color is yellow. You can fill this basket with sunflower seeds, sunflowers, sunglasses, sunscreen, and anything else “sunny” you can think of. 

Your loved one can use these items for a day at the beach, relaxing outside, or simply bringing some sunshine to an otherwise gloomy time.

28. An essentials basket

Going to the store, especially for the essentials, isn’t always everyone’s favorite chore. A practical gift, you can fill this basket with paper products, toiletries, cleaning products, and more, likely saving your loved one from a few trips out. 

29. A soup-making basket

It may not be your first idea of comfort food, but the act of making and eating soup can be very soothing. Plus, it can provide multiple meals for your loved one or fill up bowls for their entire family. 

In addition to broth, rice, pasta, or vegetables, you can also include a few new bowls or spoons, bread or crackers, an apron, and so on. You can provide a few recipes of your own or shop around for premade baskets. 

30. A movie night basket

With streaming services, movie nights can happen all the time, but they’re not quite what they used to be. 

You can create a special movie night basket for your loved one by adding a blanket, fuzzy socks, candy, popcorn, or other snacks, as well as a game, book, poster, or trinket related to one of their favorite movies or genres — perhaps one they shared with their husband.

31. A kitchen equipment basket

How often does anyone update their kitchen utensils? If your loved one enjoys unwinding in the kitchen and could use a new wooden spoon or some new gadgets, a basket with a few upgrades is likely in order. You can also include things like unique rubs or spice mixes, a recipe book, oven mitts, and more. 

32. A pet lover's basket

Many people prioritize their pets over themselves, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If your loved one and their late husband were pet lovers, a basket filled with some fresh toys and treats would make for a great gift. 

Even Simple Ideas Can Be Beautiful

Didn’t find what you were looking for on our list? No worries — you don’t have to plan or purchase an elaborate gift to comfort your family member, friend, or coworker.

Simply remind them that you’re there for them to talk to if they need you — your time and this small effort are enough. If anything is a common thread with spouses, it’s the idea of support, so make an effort to be there.

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