22 answers

Condolence Gift for Newly Widowed Neighbor

Does anyone have any good ideas for condolence gifts for a newly widowed neighbor? His wife was one of my friends and died suddenly of a massive heart attack yesterday. He's in his 80s and in poor health and his wife basically did everything around the house. I would like to get him something practical rather than traditional (flowers), knowing him and the situation he's facing.

Thanks in advance for any ideas ...

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks so much for the ideas! Between work, the kids' schedules and a workaholic husband, my time is so limited. I am going to make a real effort to stop by, though, especially after the relatives have left town, and make sure he has some good meals. I appreciate all of the suggestions!

Featured Answers

How about groceries with needed household supplies and or foods/easy meals he could make (if she did the grocery shopping) or perhaps making him dinner(s).

1 mom found this helpful

Human contact through food, is probably what he needs most-in careful doses. If it's easy, ask him to come for lunch or supper a couple times a week. Take him a casserole that he can heat up on his own in between.

If he has no family involved, a carefully nuanced conversation about support services on a daily basis would be appropriate. Someone to help him shop, make meals, do laundry and drive him where he wants to go would be a few of the duties-- but in large part having a regular person to interact with may keep him from despondency.

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Truthfully, when my grandmother passed away leaving my 90 yr old grandfather alone the very best gift was "time". Having people stop in once in a while and bring dinner over did more to help ease his loneliness then any of the cards and flowers.

I would also suggest letting the immediate "responders" fade-away and then start popping over just to say hello. You would be surprised at how many people stop calling after a week or two. Be there when the rest aren't- 10 minutes once a week is all it takes to remind him that he is not forgotten.

My condolences on your loss as well.

8 moms found this helpful

Just be there. Invite him to dinner or coffee and dessert. Take him plates of food. (Can you tell I'm Italian--we always suggest food!)
Seriously, the loneliness will be the toughest part for him. Spend some time each day showing him that you're "there" A phone call, a casserole, get his paper for him, etc. Sorry for the loss of your friend.

5 moms found this helpful

when my grandmother died the best thing my grandfather was time with people. Not being left alone for long, If he doesn't have family ask him if he would like someone to stay with him or if he would like to stay at your place, being alone is the worst thing. um helping around the house, helping with cooking, cleaning. Taking care of him.
Go for a walk with him if he can.
Helping him organize. etc.
Give him a shoulder to lean on and someone he can unload on.

5 moms found this helpful

I agree with everyone else that at his age the only thing he would need was time. Take him food, visit with him, offer to clean his house. Invite him to your family's events, holidays etc. I guess I'm assuming he doesn't have other close family members around. I will keep your friend in my prayers.

3 moms found this helpful

Depending on your budget, I think actions of kindness may be the best gift.

First, I'd spend as much time with him as possible - keep him company because it is literally true that people can die of a broken heart. Stress hormones from a traumatic loss can literally make people's health deteriorate.

I'd also offer to do some of the things that she did for him and with him. Can you mow their yard? Take him grocery shopping? Take a walk with him each evening around the block? Hire a cleaning service once/week? Offer to take him to doctor's appointments? Pick up prescriptions?

When I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, the best things I received from people were those random acts of kindness. I had just had a baby, celebrated my son's second birthday the next day, and my 33rd birthday the following day.

In the end, I needed to have people with me to remind me of all the reasons I wanted to be alive and how much they needed me to fight.

Those are my thoughts - so sorry to hear of their loss.

3 moms found this helpful

A standing invitation to dinner with your family would be wonderful, he could look forward to the daily interaction. Ask him for his wife's favorite recipes and cook them for him. Pop in and clean his house, talk with him while you clean.

2 moms found this helpful

How about groceries with needed household supplies and or foods/easy meals he could make (if she did the grocery shopping) or perhaps making him dinner(s).

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe you could have a cleaning crew come in next month or do it yourself if you have the time! You could offer to help with his laundry to take it to a laundry service for him. See what he's able to eat and take him some food on occasion.

One thing I do love (at his age and if he's in poor health this may not be the best idea though) when people are grieving is to send an Edible Arrangement. They have locations all over the place -you can google them. They do fresh fruit arrangements that are made to look like flowers. One was sent to me after my mother died, and it was the most cheerful, freshest surprise! The fruit was top-quality, ripe and yummy too!

1 mom found this helpful

How about preparing several small meals that can be frozen so he gets proper meals for awhile? If you have money to spare, maybe a cleaning service to come in to do basics once a month for a few months. And of course, the gift of your time and friendship will be invaluable.

How about paying for a house cleaner?

I am so sorry for his loss and yours too since she was a friend of yours. I think it is wonderful that you are thinking of him at this time. Since she did everything for him, how about if you off to DO something for him instead of buying a gift. Such as, making some dinner to drop off, running errands for him, offering to take him somewhere, offer to do some weeding or cleaning. Maybe spending a little time w/him too might help if he is open to that and doesn't want to just be alone. Bless you for being such a kind, thoughtful and caring neighbor!

So many great suggestions! Does your neighbor have a good relationship with your son? Most older folks love to be needed. Could he read to your son, put together puzzles, etc.? It would be a boost to his mental health as well as a great time for your son and you could quietly help around the house during this time. A child can't have too many "Grandpas"!

I think the best thing you could do for him is to cook him some meals or offer perhaps to do a load of laundry for him or just help him out around the house. He's probably very depressed and not really wanting to do ANYTHING right now, so help around the house would be great. Take him a hot dinner each night, not something frozen that he needs to reheat because he'll probably not do it. You need to make sure he eats and takes care of himself because right now, he's probably not really caring if he does that or not. Basically, spend time with him and try to keep him from feeling lonely.

My heart goes out to him. I was widowed in 2004. I received some nice house plants and candy. I think what meant the most to me was the phone calls from the friends in the UK... I was so surprised.

However, if he is in poor health and is used to having his wife do everything, and I was in his shoes, I would appreciate someone offering to help me out. Maybe a meal now and again... or offer to help him organize stuff. Does he have grown kids?

One of the most difficult things for me was organizing stuff. I would lay something down and then forget where I put it and it would drive me crazy. I finally learned that I needed to put all the important things in the same place so I could find them. I lost my sister last year and my BiL says he had the same problem.

I think it is really nice that you want to give him something. One thing that a neighbor of mine gave me was an angel. I still have it by my bedside.

Hi there, I'm sorry to hear about your neighbor but am happy that you have such a big heart. All of the answers are great and that leaves me to think of something else also. The food is very important and so is your time. Maybe when your outside with your kids watching them play, etc, he can sit in the shade and watch with you or do you have a pet like a cat that he can pet and interact with and maybe feed. People need a purpose in life so maybe he can do something as small as telling your child a story from long ago, what it was like when he was your childs age, something to make him feel special and needed. Like someone else said, you can't have too many grandpas. What about a game of some sort, something simple of course. Also, does he need any help with any medications that he may be taking, just make sure he is taking them correctly, even buying one of those plastic things that have all the days on them so he doesn't forget. They aren't expensive or if you take him to get his meds, ask the pharmacist for one for him, they will understand. And what about his bills, helping him so the heat or air doesn't get shut off, that would be bad for an older person. Does he have a garden that needs watering, maybe your child can help with that and even plant a tomatoe plant for him, something to look forward to and take care of. Are there other neighbors that know and care about him, you guys can take turns. And maybe if he doesn't have a pet, this would be a good time to ask him, of course not now but after a while...would he like a pet to keep him company, there are alot of animals that need people right now, just an older pet to sit with him and that gives him a purpose as well. I think that Safeway delivers food, if that helps any. Do any neighbors have fruit trees that they can share with him. I know I can't eat all that my trees produce, if I lived closer, I would help. Good Luck and thanks for caring for another human being on this earth, that is really what it's about.
~~ J.

Human contact through food, is probably what he needs most-in careful doses. If it's easy, ask him to come for lunch or supper a couple times a week. Take him a casserole that he can heat up on his own in between.

If he has no family involved, a carefully nuanced conversation about support services on a daily basis would be appropriate. Someone to help him shop, make meals, do laundry and drive him where he wants to go would be a few of the duties-- but in large part having a regular person to interact with may keep him from despondency.

I see a lot of other people have said this- but FOOD. Anything that can be reheated. My father passed away when I was 11- and people brought us so much food. We probably would have forgotten to eat if it wasn't right there, with little effort involved! It is a nice, caring gesture, and definitely helpful. I have brought food to many people after a death in their family, and they are always so grateful.

You could prepare a few meals for him and wrap them in the colored plastic freezer wrap and he could freeze them. Also, maybe in a few weeks you could get a housekeeper for him once or twice a month for a few months. Since he is a senior Catholic Charities has housekeepers for really cheap and they could help you. Most of all let him know that you are there for him if he needs anything and leave your phone number in big print on his fridge. Bless you for caring and helping!!

I think the best gift you can give him is your friendship. Go over each day and visit for a few minutes. See if there is anything you can do... cook a meal, clean a room, do a bit of laundry, yard work, take him to the store.... He just needs to know people care about him, so do whatever you can think of that will show him that... and keep on doing it. Nothing in the way of a physical item will compare to that type of caring from a neighbor.

I don't think gifts are in order for a death. Making some food after the dust has settled and offering to do shopping, cleaning, taking to the doctor etc. would probably be welcome if he can not get around on his own.

Blessings..

Meals or services would be fantastic, especially for his age. By services I mean have a housekeeper come over (or help him yourself).

Hello CAWriterMom,
I really appreciate your thoughtfulness in this. When my husband was ill and dying my neighbors were very kind to take care of the yard, brought in meals, even helped me to make a chart of when bills were due this would also work for other things like doctor appt or medications, so I would remember to pay them. Often a note is dear and helps the heart heal in the grief-- just write about little things you saw her do or say that you appreciated. I know that I learned of many good deeds and examples that my husband did for others that I knew nothing about until I recieved notes from people. I had a friend that on his birthday and on mine sent flowers or a treat to help on that hard day to get through it. These are things that mean so much and his children will appreciate your kindness as well. There are so many "firsts" to get through-- besides the 1st week and months so think of holidays, birthday and even anniversary and leave a note to help with the pain of that day. Offer to keep his children informed of anything you might notive that they may not know of or see. God Bless You for what ever you do.

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