Dealing with the death of a loved one or a sudden tragedy can be extremely devastating. If you have a close friend or family member who has just lost someone close to them, you are probably trying to figure out how you can comfort them best. Assembling a sympathy care package is a popular method for cheering up your loved ones while also offering them practical support during this difficult time. Read on to learn proper etiquette on sending a care package as well as fun and practical gift ideas you can include in it.
Proper Etiquette to Follow When Sending a Sympathy Care Package
Follow these simple rules of etiquette when reaching out to someone after a traumatic event
When compiling a care package for your loved one, you should consider the type of products you want to include in the package as well as when and how you will send it to them.
People of certain religions might also follow specific customs when it comes to mourning. For instance, sending flowers for a Christian service would be appropriate and acceptable while sending flowers for a Jewish one would not be appropriate. If you aren’t familiar with the mourning customs for people of a specific faith, you can search for information online or contact a local religious figure for extra help.
Typically, the best time to send gifts is within the first two weeks of the passing. Most people send care packages and flowers as soon as they hear of the death. Some wait until after the funeral service to send a care package. Therefore, you can still send a simple gift or card to your loved one even after two weeks have already passed. This shows the friend and their family that they are still in your thoughts.
Different Types of Gifts
Some people send material gifts like money or home cooked meals. Others give gifts of service, such as offering to help with groceries or babysit the kids. The family may request a donation to charity in the name of their deceased loved one. They will typically request this on their loved one’s funeral page. Whatever you send, don’t forget to attach a thoughtful card expressing your condolences along with it.
10 Items You Can Include in a Sympathy Care Package
Consider adding these items to your care package for your friend
Not sure what to add into your sympathy care package? You should always consider the personal tastes of your loved ones as well as any specific needs they have at the moment. For instance, home cooked meals are a popular care gift for families who are in mourning and may not have as much time to cook their own meals. A simple self-care gift like a scented candle or box of their favorite pastries can also be helpful.
1. Personal Note
Sometimes, it’s hard to express your genuine condolences or articulate what you can do to help out your friend. Writing a personal note for your friend can help you express your wishes to help them out and stay by their side whenever you can. As you write the note, try to avoid emphasizing the loss that the death has brought upon everyone or accidentally assigning blame to the death by saying it happened for a reason. Whatever you write, make sure you express your genuine love for the person as well as offer specific ways you can help them out.
Flowers are a common gift for people who have lossed a loved one. People typically include white flowers such as orchids and roses in care packages when sending their condolences. For some religions, like Judaism, fruit or gourmet baskets are more commonly sent to grieving friends and family members. If someone is holding a Shiva call, do not send them flowers. Instead, send fruits, desserts, or Kosher gift baskets for the family of the deceased person.
3. Home Cooked Food
Home cooked meals are another popular gift for grieving friends and family members. When dealing with such a tragic and sudden loss, it can be difficult to set aside enough time for proper meal planning. Many grieving people are also forced to make funeral arrangements for the deceased, making it even more difficult for them to set aside time to prepare nutritious meals and remember to eat.
Some common comfort meals that people cook for grieving families include:
- Chicken Pot Pie
4. Heated Blanket
A heated blanket is perfect for your loved one to wrap themselves up in and relax during their rare moments of down time. Heated blankets help people relax and enjoy a restful night’s sleep. This will be important during such a stressful time in your loved one’s life.
5. Acts of Service
Simple acts of service can go a long way. Rather than or in addition to a material gift, you can help your loved one with simple chores and duties. Some options and ideas include:
- Babysitting their children after school
- Going grocery shopping
- Helping out with lawn work
- Assisting with household tasks like washing the dishes
- Taking walks outside with them for some fresh air
6. Donation to Charity
Some families request their loved ones to make a donation to a charity on behalf of the deceased. If the person who passed was passionate about a particular organization, such as Habitat for Humanity or the American Humane Society, you can organize a fundraiser in their name.
7. Herbal Tea
Sometimes, your loved one will just need a cup of herbal tea to help them relax after a long and tiresome day. Consider purchasing them a packet of green tea or chamomile tea to help them unwind. Lavender and passion flower are also popular herbal teas. You can even go the extra mile and prepare it for them before they arrive home.
8. Pastries and Comfort Snacks
Does your loved one have a sweet tooth? Treat them to some homemade chocolate chip cookies or vanilla cupcakes. Simple comfort foods can help your grieving friend or family member cheer up a little. You can even arrange a fun baking date for you and your friend to help them put their mind on something other than funeral arrangements and other tedious duties.
9. Stuffed Animal
Consider cheering up your loved one with a stuffed animal. Are they an avid fan of dolphins? Do they adore lions? Stuffed animals can give people, including adults, a sense of security and comfort.
10. Scented Candles
Scented candles can also help your loved one relax and meditate. Lavender, citrus, rosemary, and peppermint are some popular scents for unwinding and releasing tension. You can purchase one — or a couple candles — to add to your sympathy care package.
Tips for Helping Your Grieving Friend
People grieve differently, here’s how you can help your loved one
People grieve in different ways. Some express their grief openly while others bury it deep within themselves. If you want to reach out to someone, but aren’t sure how, check out these tips for helping a friend dealing with grief below.
Don’t be afraid to reach out
The idea of reaching out to a friend after they have experienced a tragedy may seem awkward, even a little scary. But they will appreciate your efforts to reach out to them and comfort them in any way that you can. Whether you shoot them a quick text or call them up, they will likely appreciate your active decision to reach out to them.
Ask how they are feeling
Sometimes, your friend might just need someone to talk to. It’s crucial for you to be able to lend a listening ear to them. While you might not have the solutions to their current problems, you can help your friend feel like they are being heard just by actively listening to their thoughts and feelings.
Avoid including your own personal beliefs
You might be inclined to say something like “They are in a better place” or “They are looking down on you with love.” However, these statements might not align with your friend’s personal beliefs. To avoid offending them, try not to project your personal beliefs onto them. Even if you do this on accident, it is best to remain alert over what you say to your friend.
That being said, if they do ask you about your personal or religious beliefs, you can answer any questions they might have. You just don’t want to accidentally preach or push your faith onto them.
Don’t alienate them
Some people let their discomfort push themselves away from grieving friends. Do not become one of these people. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult enough. Becoming isolated from one’s closest friends and family members can make this harder for them.
Dealing with a sudden loss is never easy. That’s why it’s always helpful to have the support of your loved ones near you. Sending thoughtful care packages to your loved ones can help them get through these difficult live events. If you were in the other person’s position, you would appreciate the kind gestures from your closest friends and family members.