Other ways of saying "We're thinking of you"
Cards and flowers are the most popular forms of expressing sympathy, but it's increasingly accepted and understood that there are a wide variety of ways to express your thoughts at the time of a funeral. Funerals, as a celebration of someone's life and a commemoration of their passing, are becoming more personal, as family and friends become more involved.
Funeral homes and families are much more open to originality of expression than they once were. It's understood that people deal with death and grief in different ways and that mourning is an individual as well as a group process. Funeral directors have seen teenagers wearing T-shirts with their friends' pictures on them; car shows and poker runs have become popular forms of memorial. You can even buy small gifts like ornaments or knick-knacks, or you can make something of your own, to comfort the bereaved. As the concept of funerals begins to change, there are also a growing number of unique new ways of expressing sympathy.
Sympathy Gift Baskets
One accepted means of offering sympathy is to send a gift basket. There are a number of gift basket companies that make sympathy gift baskets, which can often be personalized for the person to whom you are sending it. You can fill the baskets with items that the bereaved will need immediately following the funeral, like food or bath products, or you can shape the basket around objects that memorialize the deceased.
Give a Tree
There are new, unconventional ways of commemorating those who have passed on and showing sympathy to those they have left behind. For example, Treegivers has been planting trees of commemoration since 1981. For someone who's environmentally-minded, having a tree (or several trees) planted in their honor might make the perfect sympathy gift. Living memorials are also a way to guarantee that the memory of the deceased will live on for a long time.
Email Sympathy Cards
Today, it's not uncommon for people to send cards via email for a variety of occasions. While email cards are inappropriate if you're close to the family or for most age groups, younger people who spend their time on the internet and communicate through e-mail (especially if they're distant acquaintances) may welcome this expression. An email card is easy to reply to and may also be appropriate for a more environmentally-focused family who might feel that cards are a waste of paper. However, in most instances a conventional sympathy card is likely to be more appreciated.