Etiquette dictates sending a funeral gift when a person dies. Traditionally, this is a floral arrangement for the memorial service, church or cemetery. However, flowers often get left behind or die within a few days. Consequently, you may want to consider a gift that is not only more meaningful than flowers, but will serve as a reminder of the deceased for years to come.
Personalized mementos can help memorialize a loved one and give the family something to hold onto during their time of grieving.
Whether a bracelet, necklace, money clip or another piece, remembrance jewelry is a way for family members to keep their loved ones close. The gift can be something as simple as a bracelet with the deceased's name etched on it.
For a more personal touch, a phrase in the deceased's handwriting, a footprint or handprint can be turned into a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry. You can also give a gift certificate so the family can select the perfect piece.
A memory blanket is another way for the family to keep their loved one close. Choose a simple design that includes only an epithet, the deceased's name, and dates of birth and death, or create a throw with one or more pictures of the deceased for a unique gift the family will treasure.
One of the most common funeral gifts to give instead of flowers is a monetary donation made in the deceased's name. If you choose to make a donation, you should donate an amount equal to what you would have spent on a floral arrangement.
Gifts to Charitable Organizations
Many obituaries include a request for charitable donations to charity. Often the family lists charities that had special meaning to the deceased.
If the deceased suffered from an illness or other condition, families often suggest donating to an organization that funds research in that field. Other times the family requests donations for the charity of the giver's choice.
Donations to Family Funds
If the deceased had young children, the family might set up a scholarship fund in the children's name at a local bank. Some families also create a fund to help defray the cost of funeral expenses.
Information on where to send donations to established funds is usually included in the obituary. If you're unsure if such a fund has been established, ask a family member, close friend or the clergy person officiating the service.
Photos and memories sustain families after the loss of a loved one. A tribute book is a wonderful way to collect those photos and memories for the family. Place a basket at the entrance of the memorial service, or reach out via social media and ask friends and family to submit their favorite memories of the deceased. You can then organize them in a memory book to present to the family. Not only will the family have new stories about their loved ones, but they will be reminded of how much he was loved as well.
Holidays following the loss of a loved one can be a difficult time for families. If the deceased's family celebrates Christmas, an ornament for the Christmas tree ensures the deceased remains a part of future holidays.
If the deceased or his family were gardeners, a bereavement stone to place in the garden provides a physical reminder and can serve as a quiet place for the family to remember their loved one. You could also check with the hospital or hospice that provided end-of-life care, about installing a memorial bench on the grounds.
International Star Registry
Being able to look up into the night sky and know a little piece of the galaxy is named after a loved one can provide families with some comfort. When you purchase a star from the International Star Registry, the family receives a personalized star map suitable for framing, pinpointing the star's location in the galaxy.
Living tributes are gifts that continue to give long after the deceased's death.
Planting a tree not only helps revitalize an area with greenery, but it ensures that the deceased's memory will live on for generations. The deceased's family will receive a personalized card notifying them of the donation and its impact.
You can also donate a farm animal that can provide wool, milk or help plant and harvest crops to a family in need.
Establish a Memorial Fund
Establishing a memorial fund to help others is a wonderful way to honor the deceased long after his death. The fund can be used to support charitable causes that were important to the deceased, or for any other purpose that would be meaningful to the family.
A Gift From the Heart
Whether you choose one of these gifts, another gift with personal meaning to you and the deceased, or ultimately decide to go with tradition and send flowers, know the best gift comes from the heart. So long as it's given with sincere condolences for the loss and an expression of what the deceased meant to you, the family will appreciate it.