A sympathy throw, or condolence blanket, provides a form of comfort and serves as a constant reminder of the spirit of your loved one. While you can drape the throw over a chair or hang it on the wall, draping it over a free-standing easel during a funeral or memorial service gives it center stage without wrinkling or putting any holes in it.
Symbolism and Meaning
Sympathy throws are woven and embroidered tapestries or blankets given as condolence gifts in place of flowers or cards. The art of weaving threads to make the blanket takes time and consideration so the finished project reflects this attitude. These meaningful blankets can also be given at a memorial service as an eternal tribute to a loved one. Many of the sympathy throws are embroidered with a sentimental message or image, but some include bereavement poems and personal words of support. A unique condolence gift like this feels more personal and special than an abundance of floral arrangements that will die within a few days of the services. The blanket can live on forever to literally wrap grieving family members in comfort or serve as a constant reminder that loved ones never leave their family completely.
Throughout history blankets and quilts have been used for many purposes related to death. When there was no wood or money for a coffin, the deceased might be wrapped in a blanket then buried. In early times handmade quilts were the norm. These could be made from a friend's store of treasured fabrics as a special gift for the family of the deceased. Sometimes the grieving family would make a comfort blanket or funeral quilt out of the deceased's clothing as a way to grieve and remember together. Also, in some religions, gifts of flowers are not acceptable so other sympathy gifts are more appropriate.
The introduction of technology has made it possible to produce personalized tribute or sympathy throws quickly. Now even those without sewing skills can give the gift of a sympathy throw and other family members can purchase the same item for themselves if desired.
Styles and Designs
The standard blanket measures about 50 by 60 inches and features a muted color palette. Iconic images and phrases adorn the piece and fit every lifestyle or belief system.
While you can find places to completely customize a sympathy throw, they mostly feature recognizable images that symbolize life, love, and moving on.
- Forest settings or a tree
- Jesus or a cross
- Flowers, gardens, and butterflies
- Military emblems or a U.S. flag
Blankets come with a variety of known religious and nonreligious sayings or poems to suit different occasions.
- The Lord's Prayer
- Psalm 23
- Amazing Grace
- Serenity Prayer
- Stairway of Tears
- Until We Meet Again
- I am the Light
- Footprints in the Sand
- Only One Mother
If desired, you can add identifying or personalized messages to give the blanket deeper meaning.
- Deceased person's name
- Dates of birth and death
- Hometown or place of death
- If military, branch of service and time served
- Short personal message of condolence
Typically, the florist supplies the easel and a floral arrangement along with the blanket to create a sentimental display at the funeral home. After the service, you can take the blanket home to display or use in your own way. If you're making the display yourself there are two main ways to showcase a tribute blanket during services.
You may see triangular wire stands used to display wreaths at a funeral. These stands, or easels, can also be used to display a condolence blanket. Drape the throw over the easel by first choosing which image or words you want to be fully visible; some of the blanket will be hanging over the back or sides of the stand. Center that image or phrase on the front of the easel, then drape the top part of the blanket over the top point of the stand. You may need to use small easel clips or clothespins on the back of the easel to keep the throw in place. Adorn the top point of the easel with a coordinating ribbon bow and place floral arrangements in front of each stand leg if desired to create a complete display.
If you wish to make the entire image or phrase on the blanket visible to guests, use a standard wooden artist's easel. If the easel doesn't have a built-in square surface, attach a large canvas to help with the display. Center the throw on the easel and fold the top edge over the top of the stand. Secure this with large easel or binder clips to the wooden frame. Cover these two clips with decorative ribbon bows on the front of the easel. Straighten out the rest of the blanket and use clips behind the blanket and easel to hold the sides and bottom in place if needed. This type of easel is much taller than a triangular metal one so the throw will be closer to eye level with guests.
Make the throw a focal point of the services by placing it at center stage surrounded by floral arrangements. If the blanket doesn't feature a picture of the deceased, place a large portrait on an easel next to the throw. This is particularly great for memorial services or for those who have been cremated as their body and casket won't be there for guests to pay tribute to. You can also choose to display the blanket alongside other condolence gifts like floral arrangements by placing it among these gifts surrounding the casket or burial site.
Wrapped In Comfort
If you want to send lasting condolences to the grieving family of a loved one, a sympathy throw is a great option. Whether it gets displayed, used, or tucked away with other mementos the thought will always be there.