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Alternative sympathy gift ideas to funeral flowers

Last updated 28th March 2024 by the SunLife Content Team
3 min read

When someone dies, friends and family often send flowers as a gift of sympathy.

These flowers can be sent to the bereaved or to the funeral director to be used in the service.

Flowers make a beautiful tribute, but they tend not to last very long. This can be a painful reminder for the bereaved when it comes to throwing them away.

We've put together a list of funeral flower alternatives that offer a different kind of tribute.

A memory book/album

A book of memories for the deceased's family can be a beautiful gift alternative to flowers.

It could be a collection of photos the family may not have seen before. Or a few handwritten memories of their loved one. A collage like this can offer a lot of comfort for the bereaved and be cherished for many years to come.

You could ask friends and family to each share one or two photos to capture memories from lots of different people.

A gift like this is likely to be less expensive than flowers. It will also feel more special and last a lot longer.

Memorial bench or plaque

A memorial bench or plaque can be a wonderful long-lasting tribute to a lost loved one.

They can be pricey, so pooling together money to put towards the cost instead of buying flowers is a great solution.

Also, if it's in a public place, it can be a nice memorial that lots of people can enjoy.

Planting a memorial tree is another meaningful option. Many people find comfort in seeing new life grow in memory of someone who is gone.

Donation towards the funeral costs

The average cost of a basic funeral in the UK is over £4,000. This can be a shock for those organising, especially if the death was unexpected.

So, you could ask the bereaved whether you can make a donation towards the cost of the funeral instead of buying flowers. If they already have everything covered, they could spend the money on something else, or donate it to charity.

Charity donation

Did your loved one supported a charity, or is there a charity close to your heart? Friends and family could send them a donation instead of flowers.

It doesn't have to be a lot of money. Any amount raised can feel like your loved one is leaving an important and helpful legacy.


People may struggle to look after themselves properly after losing a loved one.

Even basic requirements like eating can be forgotten when mourning. Offering something like a meal that can be frozen and reheated is a good way of supporting them in this difficult time. It might not get eaten straight away but it will be appreciated at some point.

Providing a box of food or snacks to be eaten at the wake could also be a great option, but check with the bereaved first.

Self-care gifts

Self care may not be a priority after a loss. But giving someone a care package can be a welcome gift when they do feel up to using it.

You could give the bereaved a box of self-care products or a voucher for a massage. Anything they can use to give themselves a little much needed TLC.

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Traditional flower donations don't always seem like the right fit. If that’s the case for your loved one, one of the above suggestions could work as an alternate tribute.

For more help with funeral arrangements, explore our other articles including:

If you're starting to think about your own funeral wishes, why not try our My Perfect Send-Off planner?

It's designed to make recording your funeral preferences a little easier. It guides you through your options and lets you save your answers ready for when they're needed. So your loved ones will know what to do when the time comes.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in the page are those of the authors, intended to be informative, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SunLife. See our Terms of Use for more info.