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Allison Gilbert’s 2019 Gift List for Grievers

Do you know anyone who could use a little extra TLC this holiday season? Of course you do. So do I. To make it easier for all of us to be the kinds of friends or relatives we most want to be, I’m launching my first Gift List for Grievers. And because self-care following loss is so important, I encourage you to put yourself on your holiday gift list, too.

Here’s my 2019 Gift List for Grievers.


1. Beyond Flowers and Food
When I started to search for new and innovative ways to remember and support grieving family members and friends this holiday season, I was thrilled to find Beyond Flowers and Food. The sisters behind this online store lost their mother to cancer and were inspired to curate the types of gifts for others they wished they’d received at the most challenging time of their lives. No more sending flowers that wither or food that gets thrown away!

Like personal shoppers for exceptionally thoughtful and meaningful gifts, Beth and Katie do all the work for you – mailing gorgeously wrapped cozy slipper socks that provide extra warmth and TLC, a small guardian angel figurine to help the recipient feel more connected to their loved one, even a handsome lantern and candle set they’ve lovingly named their “Send Some Light to Remember” package. The description of this present reads: “When you burn a candle for a loved one, you’re remembering them and honoring their life.”

What I appreciate most about BFF’s ordering process is the automated prompt that populates the personalized note section before submitting payment. Here, if you’re unsure what to write, Beth and Katie offer a few recommendations. You can accept the suggestions or write your own note to accompany the gift. I don’t think I would have ever thought of such a clever idea. Love!!

2. Membership to Modern Loss
Modern Loss is a vibrant online community (and a great book!) for anyone experiencing loss. Here, grievers find much-needed advice, guidance, and validation. Commentary is often unexpected and irreverent – a welcome antidote to other platforms that offer unhelpful platitudes. What’s caught my attention is that Modern Loss is now offering memberships for the first time!

Purchasing a membership (for a loved one or yourself) provides access to member-only posts, free downloads, closed groups, early event ticketing, and exclusive member calls with a variety of experts. Memberships begin at just $5.00.

3. R&R with Hope 
No matter where you are right now on the grief journey, author Hope Edelman can help. Hope offers healing multi-day retreats for women of all ages who’ve lost their mothers. I’ve co-led retreats with Hope and she is, without a doubt, a bereavement support rock star. These getaways are important treats to give yourself or a woman you love. If going out of town isn’t a good fit, Hope will be offering a new online course in early 2020. These experiences provide meaningful opportunities for emotional exploration and healing, plus the chance to make new and lasting friendships. Spending money to support personal wellness and growth? Priceless.

4. Mourning Boost
I love this mug from my friends at What’s Your Grief. The photo tells the whole story. No need to say more.

5. Memory Game
This is a great gift for families – a custom-printed memory game that includes photographs of living family members and those who’ve passed away. By including all loved ones, children are taught to value every relationship (past and present) in their lives. There are many companies you can use, but I particularly like Paper Culture because it plants a tree in recognition of every purchase — giving customers the opportunity to dedicate that tree to whomever they wish.

6. Preserve Handwriting
Handwritten notes, letters, and greeting cards are wonderful conduits of memory. If you have even a snippet, it’s possible to scan a few words and upload the image to a jeweler. Signatures can be engraved onto charms, even cufflinks. I like the work of Emily Jane Designs, but you can certainly find a jeweler near you who can do similar pieces.

7. Upcycle Clothing
Reimagine a loved one’s favorite sweater, shirt, or pair of jeans. Gather a few pieces and transform them into totes, teddy bears, throw pillows, or beanbags. Pieces of fabric can also be used to create one-of-a-kind quilts. Totes with Tales in New Hampshire does terrific work, and owner Nancy Roy partners with clients remotely. I’ve met Nancy. She’s a dynamo!

8. Photos Unlike Any You’ve Ever Seen
An incredibly generous way (read: not inexpensive) to help a friend honor their loved one is to hire professional photographer Shana Novak, aka The Heirloomist. Novak turns virtually any keepsake into a one-of-a-kind modern art photograph. All you need to do is send her the object and she does the rest. (To see more of Novak’s exceptional work, watch this piece on CBS.)

9. Much-Needed Book
A wise and wonderful book has just come along that I wish I had 20 years ago when my mother died: Rachel Kodanaz’s Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time. Every page is devoted to helping individuals and families decide what to do with a loved one’s belongings, including how to make all those difficult decisions about what to keep and what to donate.

10. And Another Great Book (If I Do Say So Myself)
OK, and now a bit of self-promotion. Please forgive me! Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive makes a terrific gift for the holidays. In my book, I reveal 85 practical and creative opportunities to remember the family and friends we never want to forget – from strategies involving tech and social media, to opportunities centering on cooking, gardening, and everything in between. This present is uplifting and will let the recipient know their loved one hasn’t been forgotten.

More Thoughtful Gift Ideas
Want additional ideas? Check out my previous posts about meaningful holiday gift-giving here, and here.

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