13 Memorial Gifts That Are NOT Flowers
When my son, Mac, died our house was filled with beautiful flowers. I loved the smell and I noticed their beauty, but it wasn’t long until they all started dying. I know how strange this sounds, but it saddened me. I felt like I was losing something all over again. It reminded me of how Mac was only here for a short time too.
Don’t get me wrong, I love flowers, but at a time when I could barely take care of myself I couldn’t fully appreciate them for all they are. Flowers are beautiful sentiments, but they are not the only go to for grievers. Below I have put together a list of suggestions in place of flowers.
- In Lieu of Flowers– Always check with the funeral home (website or call) or the obituary to see if the family has an “In Lieu of Flowers” suggestion. Always honor specifically requested donations or other suggestions first.
- Cards– a card is always nice, especially if you send it with a heart felt hand written note inside. Please think of sending a card not only immediately after death, but also a couple months after and at the anniversary of death as well. Purchase extra cards, tuck them away and mark your calendars for a reminder. You can read more about the Do’s and DON’Ts of sympathy cards HERE.
- Meals– This takes little thought and planning, but can be such a blessing for the family. During the first week or two after death, the family is usually taken meals either from church groups, family friends, neighbors…everyone brings food in the beginning. The family is appreciative, but can fill their freezer quickly with the incoming meals. The meals stop coming in around week two or three and the family is then heating up frozen meals – not something to complain about at all. But, if you were to plan ahead the family could have meals delivered at their convenience for the next couple weeks. It would allow warm & fresh meals to be delivered according to a schedule you organize. I have used https://www.takethemameal.com before and found it easy and very helpful. You are able to provide details such as allergies, foods to avoid, and good time to bring food. The best part is you provide the link to your schedule and people sign up themselves. You will see what they are bringing and be able to plan accordingly. Another option is, https://www.mealtrain.com. Although I have not personally used this site, I have heard very good reviews from others who have.
- House Cleaning– At times like this, cleaning the house is on our “to do” list, but it understandably follows things like… getting out of bed, breathing or just surviving the day. Grieving, being an individual process, can mean housework could be on the back burner for weeks and with all the family and friends stopping over, this is an unneeded source of stress. I recommend a gift certificate to a cleaning service to help alleviate unneeded stress. I would also recommend when giving the gift certificate, you offer to call and schedule the service for them.
- Lawn Care Services– Just like housecleaning, maintaining the exterior of our home may be put on the back-burner during times of grief.A gift certificate towards a lawn care service and calling to schedule the appointment for them, may be a very welcome relief. Do not just think grass in this case, snow removal would be appreciated as well.
- Vacation Time– If your co-worker is grieving from the loss of a loved one and you are considering ways to help them other than flowers, I would suggest considering donating a vacation day. It is unfortunate, but true, most companies offer very few days for bereavement and some offer no time at all. This is especially true with stillborn. The mother will get maternity leave, however, there is not likely time for the father to take. Donating even one day of leave for them could mean more than you know. To find out more about how you could donate time, check with your HR department.
- Dedications and Donations– I would consider the family when making this decision. If your friend is involved in a church community often times you can call to se if a donation could be made or an item dedicated in the name of the deceased. Again, because my experience is with a stillborn loss, I recommend the following wonderful, non-profit organizations, especially if you are unsure of where to donate.*Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: NILMDTS trains, educates, and organizes professional photographers providing beautiful portraits for families facing the untimely death of an infant. These images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring the child’s legacy. To donate to this wonderful organization go to:https://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/donate/My family had the honor and blessing to have NILMDTS provide us with lasting memories of our son, Mac. I am able to look at him every single day…and I do.*Molly Bears: Molly Bears was created by Bridget Crews, the mother of stillborn, Molly Christina. She created the very first Molly Bear after the loss of her daughter. This Molly Bear, weighing exactly the same weight as Molly Christina allowed her aching arms comfort. Now, she and her team create and ship unique Molly Bears all around the country. Being a non-profit organization, she relies on donations to continue to comfort families of angels from all over.Owning a Molly Bear myself, I can tell you how much these little bears mean to the families getting them. I am able to feel the weight of my son in my arms and the comfort this brings is immeasurable. To donate to this wonderful organization go to: http://mollybears.com/donate
**Keep in mind, most places will send a donation acknowledgement to the person or family member’s address. Make sure to have the address when making the donation.
- Self-Care Package– I received a self-care package from my husband’s cousin, Christina, (also a mother of a stillborn angel) and to this day I remember it. This was such a thoughtful gift for so many reasons. For one, as most grievers, I found it most difficult to take care of myself. It was so nice to have a care package to remind me that I was allowed to take care of myself. Christina filled a basket filled with all things yellow, little did she know, yellow is my favorite color.When putting together a care-package, you can do pretty much anything! Think of the person you are giving it to, if you know them you can fill it with some of their favorite things. If you do not know them very well I suggest hopping on Pintrest (the answer to anything crafty) and search homemade care packages. These can be as simple or elaborate as you choose, including DVD’s, books, magazines, new personal journal, snacks, set of Pajamas, slippers, bubble bath, lotions…possibilities are endless. You could also keep it very simple and include gift certificates for a manicure or pedicure, massage or even a private restorative yoga lesson (If you find one that will come to the home, that is even better.) I would steer away from movie tickets or other entertainment gift certificates unless they an expiration dated for a year or more. It is unlikely they will take advantage of this immediately following the death of their loved one.
- Photos They Do Not Have: There is no price on how much this would mean to them. You can frame the picture, collect several and put together a small photo album or simply make copies of the one or few you have and share it. All would be thoughtful gifts.Now, if this is for the family of a stillborn, pictures are still a possibility. I treasure all the pictures I have of when I was pregnant with Mac. Isn’t it ironic how at the time I hated getting my picture taken? Looking back, I wish I had more of these precious moments to treasure. This was a time when he was alive and growing. He was with me and I cherish each and every picture of my growing belly. So, do not be afraid of giving these pictures to the family of a stillborn. They will be a blessing to the family.
- Gifts For Children/Siblings in the Family: What is one of the first questions always asked? “How are the children doing?” Though they are asked about, children do not always feel included and in some cases, they can feel forgotten. Grieving is an adult thing to most, but children should be included in appropriate ways too. One way to help a child is to bring a gift for them. Consider the child’s age and interests.I gave my son, Hagen, a stuffed teddy bear that was part of a flower arrangement for Mac’s funeral. To this day he hugs it and appreciates having it. Suzie was very young, too young to grasp what was happening. She also was given a teddy bear, but didn’t hug and appreciate it until recently. Another gift we gave the kids is a book called Heaven is For Real. We read this from time to time and the kids find great comfort in talking about heaven because of it.If you are unsure, books are always nice. Stuffed animals, if age appropriate, or any small gift that lets them know you are thinking of them. Trust your judgment on this and know that anything you give (even a coloring book and crayons) will be enough to let them know they are not forgotten-That they matter too.
- Memorial Garden Stone: One of my favorite places to think of Mac, is in my garden. I know many others feel this ways too. A garden stone is a nice way to have special place to honor your loved one. You may also include a tree or shrub with the memorial stone, however it gets a little tricky. You have to consider space in the yard, the time they will be in the home and or if they have a special place picked out to plant the tree. Here is a link to one of the many sites that provide memorial stones: https://withsympathygifts.com/mystore/garden.html
- Wind Chimes: There is something peaceful about a subtle wind chime. It can be calming and soothing. This is one of my favorite memorial gifts! You can find them on the same website listed above: https://withsympathygifts.com/mystore/garden.html
- Memorial Token: I found these when searching for something to give my father and father-in-law in remembrance of their grandson, Mac. It is the perfect size to place in their pocket and hold onto when thinking of him. It can also be placed in your purse and kept with you at all times. A little reminder of the one you love.I have not ordered from this website, but wanted to provide a link to show the token here: http://www.personalizationmall.com/Personalized-Memorial-Dove-Pocket-Token-Lost-Love-p17900.prod?sdest=store-featured&sdestid=32&storeid=32
- Houseplant: This is a great option instead of flowers simply because it will (hopefully) last longer. Pick a hardy plant, as they will likely need to be especially the first few weeks after loved ones death.
In closing, these are just a few of the memorial gifts you can find in place of flowers. If you do give flowers, know that they are appreciated and thoughtful too. During times like this please remember, it is the thought that counts.