P1When someone you know loses a loved one, it’s hard to know what to do because you want them to know you care and are thinking of them, but you don’t want to intrude or do something that is deemed inappropriate.

Our sympathy flower and sympathy gift etiquette guides are intended to help you know what to do that shows your love but that gives them space to grieve.

Nothing is Expected

Your loved ones don’t expect any gifts or flowers. It’s up to you as well as the preferences of your loved ones who are grieving.

While they may appreciate the gesture, they may be quickly overwhelmed with flowers and gifts. P2

It’s Okay to Ask

While you may not want to ask the person who is directly grieving, you can ask other close family members if there is anything preferred, including flowers at the funeral or graveside service. You may also be able to send sympathy flowers directly to the house of those who are grieving.

It may also be that the family prefers that in lieu of flowers you make a donation to a charity or non-profit organization. For example, the family may ask that donations be made to the American Heart Association or any cancer organization.

The family may also appreciate other kind gestures like homemade meals or some assistance with errands, depending on the situation. You may also consider some type of fruit basket or gift basket that shows your sympathy and love.

Just let them know you are there to help. Then, they can tell you how you can extend your sympathy or aid during this emotional time.

Other Options When You Can’t Ask

If you can’t ask, an obituary or other types of notice with information on funeral arrangements may state what is preferred in terms of sympathy flowers or a sympathy gift.P3

Sometimes, just sending a sympathy card in the mail with a handwritten personal note is good because it is unintrusive but shows your love and allows that person the privacy to take in your kind words in private. P4

Don’t Disregard Their Wishes

The worst thing you can do is to ignore their wishes.

For example, if a funeral announcement states that in lieu of flowers something else should be done like a contribution and you choose to send flowers anyway, this is considered rude and does not follow sympathy etiquette guidelines.

Respect their wishes so you don’t cause them further duress or dampen your relationship with them.