What to Send to a Funeral for Suicide
When a friend or relative dies, it is common to send a sympathy gift in the form of flowers, food, or a card. This gesture lets the family know that you are thinking of them at a difficult time and that you are available for emotional support when it is needed.
In the event of a death by suicide, you might be wondering if these types of gifts are appropriate. After all, when death is caused by cancer or a car accident, everyone is aware of the tragedy and what it means for the family. With suicide, however, things are not as straightforward. There is still so much stigma and uncertainty surrounding this type of death that many people are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.
Appropriate Funeral Gifts for a Suicide
Although talking about suicide may make you uncomfortable, families going through this type of loss typically need more support, not less. They are probably feeling lost, confused, hurt, angry, and guilty—and may be dealing with judgment from others in the community. This combination of emotions is incredibly difficult to bear.
For this reason, it is important to send the same type of funeral gift you would send to anyone in your family or circle of friends. By acknowledging the death as the painful loss that it is—and by normalizing the situation by focusing on the grief side of things—you can help the family move forward as much as possible.
Appropriate funeral gifts for suicide might include:
- Funeral flowers, especially those that signify purity, innocence, and peace. Most white flowers do a good job of this, particularly lilies and carnations. Emphasize that the deceased is now at rest by avoiding bright or heavily dark colors.
- A “comfort” gift basket. Families who have lost a loved one to suicide may feel that pampering themselves is the last thing they should do—which is why you should encourage it. A spa gift basket or basket full of comfort foods and beverages will go a long way in providing support when they need it most.
- Meal service and/or delivery. Cooking can feel like a burden after losing a loved one to suicide, continuing on for weeks and even months. While a homemade casserole will come in handy in the first few days, a long-term meal service can provide support especially if you are far away.
- A heartfelt card with happy memories. One of the best gifts you can give a family grieving suicide is a condolence card that you personalize for the deceased. What the family needs most right now is memories and stories of all the ways their loved one touched the world in a positive way. Tell a funny story, share how your life was changed for the better because of the deceased, or simply mention your favorite traits about them.
- Donation in the deceased’s name. Another lasting tribute that will mean a lot to the family is a donation made on behalf of their loved one. Although any charity they were passionate about is a good choice, you can also look to suicide-specific causes, particularly help lines and mental health awareness efforts. This kind of support will not only help prevent suicides in the future, but also ensure that the deceased’s memory lives on in a positive way.
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By Amy Johnson