As I mentioned in my previous posts, we recently lost a good friend. While it is comforting to know that she is finally free of her sick body, I couldn’t help but feel a little helpless about the whole situation. I always worry about mistepping in situations like these. I don’t want to say the wrong thing or offend someone at an emotional time. At the same time, I wanted to show that I cared. Making a meal for those left behind is customary, but there were some dietary restrictions in play that I needed to respect. As a compromise, I created a condolence care package.
There were a few ideas for condolence care packages on Pinterest, but not a ton. They can be called so many different things. Bereavement care packages, loss of loved one care packages and empathy care packages all pull up ideas. I pulled together a few different ideas while creating my care package, so I thought I’d share them here. In my opinion, the more ideas, the better.
I was drawn to the idea of the condolence care package because it was personal without being too pushy. After the loss of a loved one, there are a lot of demands on the surviving family member’s time. Between planning the funeral and memorial service and hosting out of town family members, I knew that my presence could be a burden. With a condolence care package, I could drop the gift, pay my respects and leave, allowing the family to focus on the people who mattered most.
I’ve detailed how I created my package below, but feel free to put your own interpretation on things. A personal touch is always better in these situations.
You’re going to need a way to transport your condolence care package. Small baskets and crates work well. If you are a DIYer, a crocheted basket might be a nice touch. I found some small cardboard trays in the party section of Hobby Lobby for $1.99 that fit the bill on a budget.
Items to include in your condolence care package:
This can be an empty frame, or filled with a picture of the lost loved one or a reassuring verse or quote. I’m always taking pictures, so that’s what I used. I think that a nicely lettered sign or pretty painting or picture would be appropriate as well. Take the time to feel out your relationship with the grieving party and determine what the best fit would be in your situation.
This is not the time to whip our your most exciting scents here. The simpler, the better. Look for a plain pillar candle with a subtle scent like vanilla. This candle from Amazon is a good example. The idea is to have something to light in remembrance of the deceased, so go subtle on this one.
-Tissues or Handkerchief
You can’t really go wrong here. These are always useful and appropriate. I buy our tissues in bulk from Amazon (Kleenex 2-Ply Facial Tissues; Flat Box, 100 Sheets/Box, 10 Boxes/Pack), so I just grabbed a little box from our normal stock. A small box of tissues or little to go pack would work well in a care package. Don’t go for the massive sized tissue box unless you’re doing a BIG care package. Alternatively, you could use handkerchiefs. but I couldn’t find any without “mother of the bride” and rhinestones glued on them.
You grieving friend or family member probably has someone bringing them meals, but not much in the way of snacks. They may be hosting family members from out of town or well-wishers who stop by. Help them by stocking them up with some simple snacks. I used a small package of gluten free cookies for my box (the recipient has celiac) and some nice chocolates. Coffee or tea would be good additions too if you know their preferences.
-Small vase of flowers
This one may or may not work depending on your basket. I ended up bringing flowers separately. Don’t give something that would spill easily. White is the most appropriate flower color for funerals. I’ve heard that yellow is not an appropriate color in some cultures. However, I’ve also been to a memorial service that used exclusively yellow flowers, so who knows. Trader Joe’s is great for small, affordable bouquets.
-Card or handwritten note
You don’t have to say much. Just that you’re praying for or thinking of this person. Trader Joe’s has a lovely selection of cards that I usually resort to. Emily McDowell makes some great empathy cards as well.
These are the main components that I used to make up my condolence care package. You can arrange them to fit your vessel with some packaging as needed. As for delivering it, you can drop it off yourself, leave it on their porch or bring in to the memorial service. If your care package has to be mailed, be mindful of packing things that might melt, like the candles (look for a jarred candle over a stand alone pillar) or chocolate. Have you ever a condolence care package for someone after a loss? What did you decide to include?