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10 Outstanding Holiday Gifts for Someone Experiencing Loss and Loneliness

by Maggie Thompson


Life is short and we have never too much time to gladden the hearts of those traveling the journey with us. Be swift to love, make haste to be kind.   - Henri-Frederic Amiel

Holiday prep tends to be riddled with extra to-do lists and overall busy-ness. Too often checking off holiday tasks takes priority over pausing to check in with your kindness-register. But the holidays present a tender time for those who have experienced a recent lost. The void they might be feeling, often accentuated by the holidays, offers an invitation for an expression of your caring and kindness. More than anything said, they will be touched by your intention and thoughtfulness of choosing a gift that acknowledges their loss and also supports the vibrancy of life.

Sometimes a person may want to go deep into a feeling a remember beautiful moments, other times they may want a powerful distraction to give their mind a rest or some insightful words that may help shift their perspective on life in positive ways.

We’ve put together a list of 10 items to help get you started with ideas.

10 holiday gift suggestions for someone experiencing loss and loneliness

  1. Book: I Will Not Forget You, by Ellen Sue Stern, is a collection of daily meditations for widows and widowers with empowering affirmations and insightful quotes from a variety of luminaries. Each page is just enough to provide a gratifying, daily dose of insight, humor and reflection.
I Will Not Forget You Book

           I Will Not Forget You  $19.95

    1. Memory lamps: Lighting a candle or a memory lamp can become a gentle cue that invites reflections and thoughts of a loved one – a quiet time set aside, devoted to memories. This memory lamp offers a warm, lasting glow.
    1. CD: One Quiet Night. Music has the ability to transport and soothe. This CD plays over an hour of varied instrumental music, easing stresses of the day and settling into calm.
    One Quiet Night Sympathy Gift CD

             One Quiet Night  $14.95

      1. Book: When Breath Becomes Air, by Dr. Paul Kalanithi. This memoir finds Dr. Kalanithi at the intersection of life, death, and purpose when he is diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer. He wrestles with how to live a meaningful life in the face of death. He died at age 37, in the midst of a promising medical career and 8 months after his daughter was born. In his story, he articulates how to approach death with grace and what it means to be fully alive.
      When Breath Becomes Air
         When Breath Becomes Air    $17.50 on Amazon
        1. Handmade leather journal or photo album: Writing can be a side door to the heart, and a lovely journal can beckon expression of the many facets of grief and joys remembered. A photo album can be a way to collect images of treasured moments so they are close at hand.
        Leather Journal and photo album
             Leather Photo Albums  Prices range on Jennibick
          1. Year of candles subscription: We found this great idea well received when recently gifted. Vivid memories and emotions can be triggered simply by the sense of smell. What a treat to have a new candle arrive each month – a surprise, evoking aromatic subtleties to savor. Lighting the candle can designate special times for remembrance.
          Sympathy Gift Candles

              Candle subscription on Vellabox – 3, 6, 12-month subscriptions 

            1. Feng shui energy chimes: The gentle round tones of wind chimes reassure, and usher in calm focus and relaxation. The quiet style of their beautiful Asian inspired design can impart a spirit of serenity.
            Sympathy Gift Windchimes

                 Feng Shui Chi Energy Chimes  $35 on Uncommon Goods

              1. Zen Stone Garden: Fine pale sand, stones, a wood rake, perhaps an air plant and a small beaded tree, all held by a sectioned black tray. This gift encourages interaction and reflection, creating endless design variations in an artful display of serendipity.
              Zen Stone Garden Sympathy Gift

                  Zen Stone Garden   $55 on Etsy

                1. Book: Splitting the Arrow: Understanding the Business of Life, by Prem Rawat. Drawn from his travels around the world as an international speaker and peace ambassador, Prem Rawat’s stories deliver a timeless message in few words. They inspire readers to explore what really matters in life, illuminating the simple yet profound meaning inherent in each day. It is a reflection that goes straight to the essence of living.
                Splitting The Arrow Book

                    Splitting the Arrow   from $16 Amazon

                  1. One-year subscription to With its large library of audio books, Audible is an engaging gift option for those who relax best by listening. Those who enjoy hearing a story unfold with eyes closed will be greatly appreciative of this gift. In addition to books, Audible also offers audio versions of magazines, newspapers, radio and TV programs.

                  Audible Subscription

                   1 year Audible subscription  $149.50

                  Holiday gifts that can’t be wrapped also convey well-meaning intentions through our actions. Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D., one of the foremost authorities on grief and bereavement, says that through gestures of kindness, backed by words and a willingness to listen, we convey that we are there for the bereaved. Read, "The Priceless Sympathy Gift - a Gift of Service, of Time, of Hope," our interview with Dr. Neimeyer. Consider offering:

                  • The gift of time, to share memories and hear stories
                  • The gift of assistance with routine daily tasks - acts that lighten the load carry lasting meaning
                  • The gift of hope, to honor the ultimate values that inform choices and re-create a life of meaning going forward

                  Maggie Shopen Thompson, MFA, is a freelance writer and writing workshop facilitator in Montpelier, Vermont. She has had experience as a caregiver for her mother many years ago, and for her husband and daughter during their recent cancer treatments and recoveries. She is a contributing author/artist in Healing Art & Writing – using creativity to meet illness, curated and edited by Patricia Fontaine, published in August 2016.