Sympathy Gifts for Co-Workers

A floral arrangement sitting on a desk in the office.
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You might not shed any tears when a co-worker loses a loved one, but putting forth the effort to be there for your colleague should be your first priority. If your relationship at work is close, giving a sympathy gift sends the message that you're thinking of your co-worker, even if you've never met the deceased.

1 Give Flowers

Flowers are a traditional gift when someone passes away, and you don't need to stray from this gift idea. One approach is to have a floral arrangement delivered to the funeral; there, your co-worker will see it and know you're thinking of her. An alternative is to leave a bouquet on her desk on the morning she returns to work. Pair the flowers with a note offering your condolences and stating your co-worker and her family are in your thoughts.

2 Make a Donation

Read the deceased's obituary in the newspaper or the funeral home's website, as this paragraph often gives an indication of a cause to which people can donate. Many obituaries, for example, suggest that in lieu of flowers, you can make a donation to a hospital, nursing home or charitable organization. If you can obtain this information, make a small donation in memory of the co-worker's family member. In the weeks after the funeral, the family will likely review the donations and your colleague will be pleasantly surprised to see your kind gesture.

3 Lend a Hand

An act of kindness can be just as valuable as a traditional gift. Offer to deliver a meal to his house or to stop by his house to cut his grass or shovel his snow, as these projects can get neglected following the death of a family member. At work, offer to take on one of his projects or handle his emails and phone calls until he returns.

4 Consider a Memorial Stone

A memorial stone, carved with the name of the deceased or a thoughtful message, serves as an original alternative to flowers and lasts considerably longer than blooms. A shrub that the family can plant is also a thoughtful, original idea. A specific self-care gift for your co-worker is also ideal. Ideas include a gift card to a relaxation massage clinic or restaurant. The latter can help the co-worker and her family have a night out to spend time together.

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.