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24 Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts for the Loss of a Mother

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Losing your mother can change your life — and you’ll likely be able to agree with that statement even if you haven’t gone through the death of your own mother. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge and care for a friend who’s grieving the loss of his or her mother. 

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You may choose to send flowers with a note attached, a homemade gift, or something you purchase from a store. Whatever you choose to send, know that it’ll most likely be appreciated.

Ideas for if You Planned Ahead

Your friend’s mom might be suffering from a long illness or may currently be in hospice. You could show support to your friend during this time instead of waiting for his or her mother to pass away.

Provide meals for the family

Whipping up a meal for the family might conjure up images of a fridge stuffed with chicken and rice casseroles, Jell-O molds, and trays of cookies. Regardless of how trite or boring this gift seems, it’s almost always appreciated because your loved one won’t have time to cook if she’s at her mom’s bedside at all times. 

Take that burden away by organizing meals with friends, work colleagues or a church group — or purchase gift cards to local restaurants. Don’t ask if you can provide food — just do it. 

Gas cards

Let’s say your friend has a bit of a drive to get to where his or her mother’s home, hospital or hospice is located. Consider purchasing a gas card or buy gift cards to Uber or Lyft if your friend lives in a metropolitan area. 

Housecleaning

Out-of-town guests often flock to the scene when a family member dies. Your friend may feel stressed as he or she plans a funeral and hosts family members from out of town. Before the guests arrive, pay to have your friend’s house cleaned or complete the job yourself. 

Ask your friend the best time for a housekeeper to arrive. Don’t add to your friend’s stress by having a stranger show up unexpectedly.

Airline tickets

Consider using some of your airline points to purchase tickets for your loved one. Traveling to their mom’s funeral or hospice bed may be some of the most important days and hours of your friend’s life and it may not be possible without your assistance.

Snacks, drinks, and coffee shop gift cards

Whether their mother is dying in a hospice facility, hospital, or home, other friends and family will gather there to pay their last respects. 

It’s thoughtful to provide pre-packaged snacks, small coolers with drinks, or coffee shop gift cards for these out-of-towners. You may also consider purchasing easy-to-eat fruit and other healthy snacks like granola bars or trail mix.

Clothing

You may consider purchasing clothing items for your friend to wear at the funeral — between funeral planning and spending time with relatives, your friend may not want to shop for his or her own funeral clothes.

This gift is only recommended if you know the size, style, and tastes of your friend. Text photos to your friend before you make a purchase or buy a few different outfits and plan to return the ones that don’t work. Still stuck? You can also check out our guide on what to wear to a funeral.

DIY Sympathy Gift Ideas 

You could take the time to create something meaningful for your friend. Homemade gifts aren’t just unique — they take time to prepare and come from the heart.

Photo presentation

Meld your technological and artistic skills and create a photo presentation full of images of your friend with his or her mother. You may be able to gather the images from social media or you may ask for access to photo albums. 

This project will be appreciated whether your friend chooses to show the slide show at the visitation or not.

Memory book

Use photos from social media or borrowed albums and create a memory book for your friend. You can use actual photographs and an archive-quality scrapbook or create a photo book from a website. Make copies of the photos before you adhere them to pages, especially if you use original photographs.

Create a book of letters

Perhaps you knew your friend’s mother. If so, ask others who knew her to share memories of the deceased. Write or record these stories, then gather the memories and display them. 

People may have good intentions but tend not to talk about the deceased when they’re around someone who’s mourning. 

Instead, your friend may want to hear stories and feel comforted knowing that the woman he or she loved also meant a lot to others.

Create a photo display

Many choose to have photo displays of their loved ones at the visitation or funeral. Ask your friend if he or she needs help putting one together. Gather up pictures, frames, easels, empty boxes for layering, and tablecloths to create an artful display. 

Sewing projects

Perhaps your friend’s mother was known for an individual style. Maybe she loved a particular sports team. Perhaps she always dressed in a specific pattern or color. Maybe she loved peacocks, grew sunflowers, or wrote novels.

Consider making a quilt, pillow, or doll with fabric that would remind your friend of his or her mom — if you’re handy with a sewing machine. 

Recipe book

Was your friend’s mom known for superior cooking skills? You may want to come up with some way to preserve and display those recipes. Consider purchasing an archival-quality recipe book or a recipe box that you can decorate. 

Decorate a memory box

Decorate or purchase an attractive box and add your friend’s mother’s name to the top or the side. Encourage your friend to use the box to store treasured items.

Your friend could store her mother’s handwritten recipes in the box or keep a jar of her mother’s perfume or a playbill from an event they both attended. Your friend will be able to add to the box throughout the years and visit it whenever she wants to feel close to her mother.

Last-Minute Sympathy Gift Ideas

Homemade gifts take time and talent. If you have little of each, you may consider purchasing something to show that you care. Be cognizant of your friend’s taste, style, and beliefs. 

Plants

Many people appreciate receiving plants because they’re beautiful, unobtrusive reminders of the deceased — and they can last for decades.

Flowers

It’s traditional to surround the casket at a funeral with floral displays. In fact, flowers have been used as a symbol of condolence for generations. This gift is perfectly appropriate for a friend who has just lost his or her mother. 

Sometimes, you can even send the flowers on the day of a funeral service. Don’t forget to attach an appropriate sympathy note.

Donation to a charity

Instead of inundating your friend with more items to handle during this sad time, you may choose to make a donation to a favorite charity in the mom’s memory.

Charities of choice are often listed in the obituary and they are usually collected at the funeral service. 

Figurine

Some people keep a supply of figurines on hand to give to individuals who recently suffered a loss. You may choose to purchase birds, butterflies, angels, or feathers — or any other type of figurine.

You may also want to purchase figurines that are actually molded into the image of a mother and child.  

Trees or bushes

You may consider purchasing a tree or perennial outdoor plant instead of a houseplant if your friend has yard space for one. 

Just like indoor plants, trees and bushes can last for years. Once the tree is established, you may even want to consider adding an “In Memory of  . . .” plaque to the base.

Ornament

Personalize an ornament with your friend’s mom’s name etched on it. Your friend will love seeing this reminder when it’s time to decorate for the holidays. 

Jewelry 

Necklaces, bracelets, or other small tokens are the perfect gift for someone who is grieving. Look for a necklace that says “mother” or a piece of jewelry with a small heart. 

Framed photo 

Purchase your friend a beautiful, classic frame and insert a photo of the loved one he or she lost. This classic gift is the perfect choice for one who is grieving. Of course, you may be able to find a photo for the frame from your friend’s social media account. 

Sympathy card

Don’t overcomplicate things. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a friend in mourning is to write a sympathy card.

It’s easy to pick out something from Hallmark and sign your name, but consider adding a personalized condolence message to the generic text.

The Best Gift is You

The best gift that you can give to someone who is grieving is your quiet presence. Go to the visitation. Go to the funeral. Call your friend the day, the week, and the month after the death. Keep track of the day your friend’s mom died and send a note of encouragement each year. 

Gifts are nice, but remember, your friend needs your listening ear and your quiet support more than anything else.