5 Unique Gifts Ideas for a Widow or Widower


When a friend or family member loses their spouse, the loss touches every corner of their life. Beyond the loss of their romantic love, everyday tasks will be more challenging. Everything from paying bills to chores to parenting/grandparenting and planning for the future will be remarkably different that what was once imagine. 

If your friend or family member is now navigating life without their partner, it's understandable that you'll want to show them that you care, and you might be wondering if there's something more useful than a traditional flower bouquet. 

(there is)

The secret to a good sympathy gift is to find something that makes life a little more manageable. Here are some ideas that all share the common theme of trying to ease a burden.

1. Practical Care Package

A roll of toilet paper on a glass table.
Image by Kellyn Shoecraft

Shelf stable staples that we all use and need to have on hand. You’re trying to prevent the bereaved from having a moment where they realize they need toilet paper and there isn’t any in the house. Great items to include in practical care packages are: TP, paper towels, spray cleaner, toothpaste/toothbrushes, dish soap, handsoap, freezer bags & labeling marker, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, trashbags, tissues, disposable plates and cutlery, sponges or dish brushes.

We know that it can feel strange to send someone a box with disinfectant wipes and toothpaste. If you're going to put together your own package of practical items, put them together in a reusable tote (I've purchased bags from this company) or plain handled paper bag (which are actually a bit hard to find and you have to buy them in bulk. Here is one option). Baskets make for a nice presentation, but they're hard for the recipient to store/reuse.

In your card you can share your intention that the purpose of the gift is to make life a little less complicated. A simple explanation will clear up any confusion, and it's mostly likely that the recipient will immediately understand the gifts' usefulness.

Here For You offers many of these practical items, they are the origin to our business. If you'd like us to put something together for you, go to our box builder select the occasion and search for items in the 'home' section. We also have curated boxes ready to go. 

2. Food Delivery

If you’re not in a position to drop off ready-made meals, consider delivery services like Grub Hub, Uber Eats, or Door Dash. All three offer gift certificates. Be sure to check that they serve the recipient's town/city before gifting.  

Black android phone and food in brown boxes being exchanged in a doorway between a customer and a delivery person.
Image by Mike Jones

Avoid meal delivery kids like Blue Apron or Home Chef. The bereaved probably will not feel like cooking, and subscription services demand mental effort when choosing meals before the weekly deadline. Alternatively, you could use a ready-made food (frozen or easily frozen on delivery would be best). Chilled, Send a Friend a Lasagna, Spoonful of Comfort, Goldbelly (especially pizza or bagels) are all solid options.

You could also put together an Instacart delivery of smaller quantities of fresh foods. This way, if the foods aren’t eaten, a huge amount isn’t going to waste. Ready-made salad kits, whole fruit, milk, sliced cheese or shelf stable snacks (nut mixes, dried fruit, crackers) would all be suitable. Try to include things that are nutritious and easy to prepare. You can also consider sending an Instacart gift card

3. Organization

Perhaps the least sexy option would be a gift to help with organizaiton. WIth death comes an enormous amount of paperwork, especially for a surviving partner. 

A person filing through an expandable folder

Image by Anete Lusina

There are so many options from smaller to larger (this one too).  There are many choices, just be sure that the pockets are big enough to hold 8.5 x 11” paper without needing to do any folding. Some documents may be official and the individual will prefer to avoid creases. 

4. At-Home Entertainment

This one might seem off the mark, but in the early days after loss, the bereaved sometimes just need a brain break. Anything distracting could help. A gift certificate or paid for streaming service could offer some new content to help with the long days and night. This Vulture piece outlines options and costs as of June, 2023. If you are covering a subscription, please give the bereaved an idea of how long you’ll be covering the service so that they’re not surprised when the gift ends.

if you're not sure of which streaming services they already have, you can also do a gift certificate that can be used to download movies. An Amazon gift card (digital or physical) can be used to access video rentals. You can also send gift cards for video rentals to Google Play, Apple TV or Vudu.

A television in the background has the Netflix logo on the screen. A steamy mug sits on a coffee table in the foreground
Image by John-Mark Smith

5. Gift Certificates for Household Services

Gift certificates to places like Task Rabbit for household tasks or Care.com for dog walking/pet care, house cleaning or childcare can be very helpful. 

Man changing a lightbulb in a ceiling light fixture
Image by Anete Lusina


Each surviving partner has their own unique needs and experiences. When considering a gift, trust your intuition and remember that while gifts can be thoughtful, they are by no means obligatory. The most meaningful gesture you can offer is your unwavering support, patience and compassion. 

If you do decide to go the gift route, keep in mind that the best gifts are usually those that provide genuine assistance. Rather than focusing solely on the material aspect, think about how your gift can make their life a little smoother. 

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