30+ 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. 

Jump ahead to these sections:

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.

Tip: If someone you know recently lost their mother, they're likely sorting through the life she left behind. Consider sharing our post-loss checklist to help them through that process. 

Ideas for if You Planned Ahead

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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. 

Memorial or sympathy jewelry

If your loved one has their mother'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 want something more solid and tangible, look into Parting Stone, a company that creates beautiful, handheld cremation stones to keep your loved one close to you.

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.

We like the CraveBox Healthy Care Package from Amazon.

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 

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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.

We like the Self Adhesive Magnetic Scrapbook from Amazon.

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. 

We like the HANTAJANSS Clip Photo Holder from Amazon.

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. 

We like the Fresh & Lucky Recipe Box from Amazon.

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.

We like the KINGCRAFT Unfinished Pine Wood Box from Amazon.

Last-Minute Sympathy Gift Ideas

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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.

We like the Peace Lily Clean Air Plant from Amazon.

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.

We like the Benchmark Bouquets 12 Stem Assorted Asiatic Lilies from Amazon.

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.  

We love the Willow Tree Remembrance Angel, Sculpted Hand-Painted Figure.

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.

We like the 9GreenBox Olive Tree from Amazon.

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. 

We like the Graphics and More Memorial Ornament from Amazon.

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. 

We like the Dainty Heart Pendant Necklace from Amazon.

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. 

We like the Golden State Art Aluminum Picture Frame from Amazon.

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.

We like the Hallmark Sympathy Greeting Card from Amazon.

Personalized Sympathy Gifts for the Loss of a Mother

It’s easier than ever before to purchase personalized sympathy gifts. Many products you order through Etsy and other similar websites can be personalized. First, make sure you know the exact spelling of the person’s name, and then click one of the links for the products below.

Personalized canvas print

Are you looking for a way to take your photo gift to the next level? Instead of a simple print completed on photo paper, why not create a canvas sign out of a picture of your friend’s mom? These projects can be personalized with a name and a quote or verse. (If you aren’t sure which quote or verse to choose, look for one in the funeral program.)

Personalized print

We love this personalized gift. Take a look at it because it is a bit hard to explain. 

This print features the backs of two figures – one with a set of angel wings. In addition, a quote is printed at the top of the poster. Even though the quote can be customized, we like the one in the example: “Those we love don’t go away. They walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near. Still loved. Still missed. And forever dear.”

What makes this print unique is that the drawings of the people can be customized in thousands of different ways. You can select skin tones, hairstyles, hair colors, and wardrobes of the people in the poster. This design can also be used for the loss of a dog or cat.

Personalized print and bell wind chime

We also thought you would like this personalized gift. It includes an angel wing print that can be personalized with the deceased’s name. It also includes a cute bell chime that can be hung on a door and a card printed with the message you chose.

If you would like a more traditional (and louder) windchime, here is another from an Etsy store that can be personalized. 

Personalized keychain

Sometimes a person who has had a loss can be overrun with memorial items that need to be displayed in the home. If you think that might be the case for your friend, consider purchasing a personalized keychain like this one that says “daughter of an angel.” It can be personalized with the name, birth/death dates, and the birthstone of the person who died. 

Sympathy Gifts for a Young Child or Teenager Who Lost a Mother

A motherless child has years to grieve this profound loss. While we all know that there isn’t a gift that will fix this difficult situation, here are some ideas of things to buy that show the child or teen that you care.

Stuffed otter

This stuffed animal shaped like an otter comes with a board book about love from a distance. The product is called Otter Snuggler, and it might make a good gift for little ones who are learning to live without their moms. 

Of course, there are many other products similar to the Otter Snuggler. You might also like Warmies. This stuffed toy comes in several different animal designs, and it can be microwaved to release the soothing scent of lavender.

Books about grief

There have been a variety of books published about grief that are written for small children and teens. Besides making sure the book is age appropriate, you may want to preview it to make sure it describes an appropriate view of death and the afterlife. 

Customized jewelry

The child or teen may like having something to wear that reminds them of their mom. For example, consider a small locket with a photo of the mother and child or a personalized keychain. This braided leather bracelet could be worn for years.

Phone 

Hear us out before you exclaim that a child doesn’t need a cell phone. A child or teen that has lost their mother may feel better knowing that there is another woman, such as an aunt or grandma, to turn to when needed. If you are close to the child, consider purchasing a cell phone with your name pre-programmed. 

Be sensitive about this purchase, though. You don’t want to make it seem like you are trying to replace the deceased. Additionally, only make this offer if you have the blessing of the surviving parent. 

Scanned photos

Scan all the photos you can find of the deceased and share them with the child. Of course, you can also give them a photo album of pictures, but they might appreciate having scanned images so they can view them from wherever they are in the world. 

Also, consider jotting down memories of the deceased whenever they occur to you and sharing them with the child. They will probably want to know about their mother as a person as they age. Having these written memories to turn to periodically will help them feel closer to their deceased mom.

Unique Sympathy Gifts for the Loss of a Mother

Although we’ve given you many ideas for appropriate sympathy gifts, the best gifts are those that reflect the personality and interests of the person who died. 

For example, did the mom who died love ice skating? Then frame a photo of the woman skating with her child to present as a sympathy gift. Was the woman an avid gardener? Give the child with similar interests a stepping stone to put in their garden plot. Was the woman a super fan of the local sports team? Have a customized jersey made with the mother’s name.

Here are some other unique sympathy gifts. Please note that some of the gifts on our list are only appropriate for those families who chose cremation as the method of disposition.

Glass orb

Several online companies will create a beautiful glass orb (or paperweight) that incorporates a tiny amount of cremation remains in the design. Of course, this gift would require that you have access to a small portion of the remains. Please don’t overlook the need to ask permission from the family. Some faith groups do not approve of separating the ashes or using them for such purposes.

Cremation jewelry

Cremation jewelry can be categorized in two ways. One type describes a piece of jewelry designed to hold a tiny bit of ash. The other type of cremation jewelry describes the process of using a small amount of cremated remains to grow a gemstone or diamond to be used in a piece of jewelry. 

Star

Consider naming a star after your friend’s mother. 

Subscription gift boxes

Sometimes families are overwhelmed by gifts and affection immediately after the death of a loved one, but then they are left alone in their grief. Consider purchasing a subscription gift box that reminds your friend each month that they are not alone. Many companies offer this service. For example, check out Laurelbox or Spoonful of Comfort

Service project

Consider completing a service project to honor your friend’s mother. Plant a tree or some shrubbery on the lawn outside her church. Have a bench installed at a local park. Schedule a workday for your family at the local homeless shelter. Create a lovely garden at the site where the family chose to scatter the ashes. Finally, don’t forget to install a plaque with the deceased’s name to show others who you honor. 

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.

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