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Grief Gifts… A ‘Roundup’ of Some Things and Some Free Ideas To Help The People You Love Who Are Going Through It

Velinda, back again to talk about fun ways to make moody pillows work in a layered space!…. strike that. I LOVE a moody pillow and swear by a layered space. But this year, And while I’m so grateful for the distraction of design projects, I’m finally truly playing catchup on the LAYERS of grief that I (and I’m sure many of you) have been facing. So why not make a ‘roundup’ of it? Round….down? Round-and-round-and-round… If you’re here with me in this state of ‘day-by-day’, you get it. We’re all unwilling participants in this pummeling process. Or….

Maybe you aren’t. Maybe you scaped by unscathed… still, I’m 95% sure you probably know someone who is caught in a whirlwind this/last year. Honestly, this post is probably MORE for you, my lucky friend.

I’m writing as a not-thrilled-to-be and yet ever-grateful expert on the topic of “Grief Gifts”… here to assist you well-intended Helpers who just Googled something like, ‘how to support a friend whose dad had a psychotic break after having seemingly recovered from Covid’. Okay, that’s not even a joke… That truly was a search of mine last night. What the ACTUAL ‘F’?

So a quick summary of why I’ve become the expert…

#1: I have the most amazing friends/support system who have SHOWN me what has helped, what has ‘cheered’, and what has been simply life-saving.

#2: Life handed me some SHIT the last few years… and I know I’m not alone.

Since this post isn’t intended to be about my lessons/life/loss, I’ll provide just a quick summary. (and that, ,my Loves, is an excuse made by a writer who STILL can’t actually write about the loss of her mom now two years later). For three years, I watched my mom endure the knockdowns, many surgeries, and eventual withering that comes from a diagnosis of stage 4 ovarian cancer. And then she finally died. Exactly a year later, the weekend we were sprinkling her ashes in the ocean as she had requested, my wife and I had to put my diaper-wearing, 18-year-old best friend down. He was a Lhasa-Apso mix with a severe need for orthodontics who had been with me from leaving high school through getting married… Which brings us to the most recent blow…. This pandemic year has, seemingly, ended that marriage. My wife and best friend let me know I was no longer her truth. But considering that happened just a month ago, you can expect more details ‘soon’ when I’m able to finally write about that in, oh let’s say, 6 years from now? So, stay tuned. But truly, the grief is deep, layered, current, and probably too depressing for a design blog.

Instead of diving in there, why don’t we focus on something hopefully a bit helpful for any of us Googling how to help our friends through some really dark times. There are so many ‘what to get for Christmas/baby showers/weddings….’ But all in all, when it comes to loss, well, we’re a bit at-a-loss.

So, here’s a rundown of the support and gifts that I found incredibly helpful during the (please, Lord baby Jesus) worst of it:

Cleaning The Refrigerator/Sending A Cleaning Service

design by velinda hellen design | from: velinda’s first freelance client reveal: molding the ‘builder-grade budget’ + where they saved & splurged

We had incredible food-support in the final weeks with my mom, but making room in the refrigerator and knowing when a dish may have expired was a job… one taken on by lovely friends, who sorted, repackaged, and labeled food with dates. That ‘simple’ task was a mountain for us to climb at the time… which can be the same for keeping up with cleaning. Extra support here can be pretty hard to turn down.

Massage/Pampering/Bath Gift Cards Or Gifts (Hygge… Slippers, Robe, Candle Etc Etc)

photo by veronica crawford | from: velinda’s budget diy bedroom and bathroom makeover

Trying to cope/heal can take a serious, physical toll. Any physical comfort can add just a bit of relief. In these Covid-times, massages may not be readily available, but bath teas, candles, and other cozy-softness may help make your grieving friend breathe just a bit easier. Oh! And weighted blankets actually seem to help anxiety… at least they do mine.

Here are some I recommend:

1. Organic Bath Bombs | 2. Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soothe & Sleep Lavender Foaming Bath | 3. Weighted Comforter | 4. CBD Jasmine + Rose Bath Tea | 5. Weighted Blanket | 6. Glacier Candle | 7. Slippers | 8. Kush Queeb Black Magic Relax CBD Bath Bomb

A ‘Badvent’ Calendar… For The WIN

This was a stellarly-creative idea from one of my friends. She made it. It’s basically an ‘Advent’ calendar, but for the darker times. Each little drawer had a treat and a small note of encouragement, which gave just a little bit to look forward to every day for a month. And it’s a gift to keep giving, the idea is to refill it and pass it along to the next friend in need, when the time comes.

The Anti-Anxiety Notebook

This was a recent gift from another friend and I’m loving it so far. It’s a short, journal prompt each day with the goal of identifying thought patterns and reframing narratives over time. It’s created for very easy use by a couple of therapists. I’ve been a ‘let’s dig in’ journaler of late, but I find I use this book on the days I’d ‘like to be’ journaling, but find myself busy (or too emotionally-avoidant) to do so. It’s quick and easy.

A Schedule (Regular Hang/Calls/Support Group) – Something To ‘Look Forward To, Count On & Anchor The Seemingly Endless Week

THIS! Don’t have funds? Showing up is free… doing it regularly is life-saving. I have a few women in my life who have started a weekly check-in/accountability group since my separation. Knowing that regular meeting is there helps fend off fears of isolation. I also have a few friends who plan (even remote/distanced!) weekly hangouts/games/walks with me. A weekly or even bi-weekly, scheduled ‘date night’ or other plan puts much-needed markers & joy in the slowly passing weeks of grief.

Food (Duh, But SO Helpful)

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: soup saturday: homemade bone broth & chicken meatball veggie soup

This may not seem like a creative idea, but EVERY single time someone has shown up with food through these series of events, it wasn’t only something appreciated, but usually necessary! Ordering groceries became impossible at times…. Much less planning a balanced meal & preparing it. Many times, I forgot to eat, unless someone handed me something. One thought, IF there is a meal train in place/multiple people providing ‘comfort food’, consider offering something lean/fresh/healthy as an alt. It may not sound as exciting, but a clean meal can be a good break from the ‘southern comfort’ menu. But also, donuts never hurt a thing in times like these! So, no hard-and-fast rules here.

Oh! And don’t forget you can send meals via Apps. DoorDash, Postmates, GrubHub, etc are a great way to remotely feed your friend a meal of their pick!

Hand-Written Bits

My mom lined her walls with cards and letters in her final days. They meant so much to her. I still have a simple, hand-scrawled note left by my Seattle-bound sister on my fridge, telling me ‘how strong I am’ and ‘how loved I am’. And my adult neighbor HAND-DREW a card with vegetables planted in the ground ‘rooting’ for me. The extra time/thought of a hand-made/written note can exceed the sympathy text/social media likes unimaginably-so!

A Walk To Accompany Your Visit (Move That Body… Masked And Distanced Options Still Avail During Covid Times!)

Only in the last knock-down have I discovered how easy and healing this added, physical layer of a conversation can be. Obviously, it can be helpful to talk through trials with friends… But doing so while taking a stroll outside (even an easy one) soothes the brain/body and, at least for me, restores hope in a new, ever-evolving world so much more than sitting on a sofa can do.

An Air Mattress/Sofa/Place To Which To Escape

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the coziest upstairs cuest “bunk” bedroom

Your friend may need a fortress and/or a ‘babysitter’ at times. A change of scenery can do wonders when grief has you otherwise stuck. Just opening up your home for a night or weekend, even if you don’t have ‘plans’ or ‘things to do’ can be more than plenty. Sitting on a different couch may be the only relief needed at times.

Now, I get this tip may currently be limited only to people in your ‘pod’, but brighter days are coming. This pandemic will end! So, have those cots for your friends ready!

A Playlist Of Songs

It’s so easy, thoughtful, and (pretty much) free. A great way to help your friend feel-the-feels, dance it out or just have something new to discover!

An Endless Supply Of Receiving Calls & Checking-In

Hot Tip! Grief lasts so much longer than we realize. Social media love is always nice, but an antiquated call (or Marco Polo… or whatever app the kids are using) is a stand-up way of being a caring ear. Extra points for listening to the same story 10 times because you call so often.

Avoiding The Question, ‘What Can I Do/What Do You Need?’

I still fall into this, so don’t shame yourself too hard when you do ask… But if you can avoid the question and just TRY something, you’re alleviating work for your grieving friend. Or ask another friend of the family/make a point person. For the griever, it can be too much to manage/they may have NO idea/they feel too burdensome to be honest to begin with… If you don’t ask anyone and just take a swing, it’s somewhat unlikely to be a strikeout!

A Commissioned Piece Of Art

…Only if said person is ready to CRYYYYYY. But as a designer, I have to encourage a ‘piece’ like this. I have one of my own thanks to my best friend. Seriously, MonstrKiwiArt somehow captured my furry-friend’s SPIRIT. I. Love. It.

Calendar Reminders To Check In On Important Dates… Far Beyond The Crisis

Remember that ‘Hot Tip’ about grief lasting longer than we realize. Well, your friend is going to look ‘okay’ eventually. They’re going to tell you they’re ‘okay’ eventually. And then BAM, a birthday, death-day, holiday, or used-to-be wedding anniversary (etc) swings past just to give your friend an ANNUAL punch in the face. ‘Okay’… no longer. If you’re there to have their back in ANY way for these lingering smack-downs, kudos to you… you could be one of few!

A Potted Plant/Succulent!

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: emily bowser’s “refreshed for function” small living room makeover

I personally have loved every ‘non-living’ flower too (gold stars will still be granted for those)! But I learned from a family member that flowers can be oddly-upsetting when they start to die. So, perhaps, think longevity. I still have an indoor, potted plant and succulents in my garden (that came nestled within some cut flowers to be planted!) now two years after receiving these gifts.

Contributing To A ‘Meal Train’ (Apps Available)

…And extra points for starting said train. There are apps to make this easy. Want to make sure your family/ friend has a steady flow of food without waste or repeated nights of ravioli (though is there anything wrong with that? Never)… get coordinated. Give in Kind, Meal Train, and Take Them A Meal are a few of what I’m sure are many app/site options to aid the effort.

Videography Services… These Don’t Have To Be Fancy And You Don’t Have To Be A Pro

This one may be tricky/potentially non-universal. I don’t recommend you shove an iPhone in the face of your crying friend. But if there’s a subtler or permissioned way to document final moments/life celebrations, etc. it could be worth an offer or quick capture. You may even save these to share MUCH later. I had a friend offer to come record footage of what we knew would be our last Christmas with our Mom, which turned into a bit of a final QA session as well. My foggy, stress-filled survival-brain would have NEVER remembered the stories behind each family-made ornament she gifted me that night or the questions we made up on a whim. But we have VIDEO. We also have a video of the day we sprinkled her ashes in the ocean, thanks to a trusted family friend.

Have I had ANY desire to watch these yet? NO… have you not picked up on my avoidant tendencies? But I’m incredibly grateful they exist when it’s time.

‘Woo-Woo Stuff’

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: ehd’s day out: how we spent an afternoon in malibu

Rose Quartz is said to heal the heart. Ohm bowls generate vibrations to elevate meditation. Sage & Palo Santo can clean old energies. Energy healers/yoga sessions can help release the trauma the body stores etc, etc. These are fairly safe things to gift… but you can potentially get even bolder… your friend in transition may be more open than ever. Know a great tarot reader? Have you had a great experience with a psychic? Carrying some link to a vortex? Why not share. I mean, you know your friend better than I do and this may go against certain religions, so tread lightly, but I can tell you I have a tarot reading this Saturday thanks to a reputable friend, so I’ll report back 😉

Drugs & Alcohol

photo by veronica crawford | from: velinda’s under $20,000 diy kitchen (& laundry room) gut reno

When all else fails, bring the whiskey! Or… a safe sleeping aid/CBD sleep gummy, etc. Now don’t tempt your sober friends… But HOT TIP: I’m not sober… someone please send the WHISKEY!

If you’re grieving right now, know you’re not alone. I’m here with you, and others are here with us… One day at a time, friends. Accept the love and support. It may soon be your turn to give it. If you aren’t grieving, give the love and support, it will eventually be your turn to accept it. Grief is a bastard-cycle, not just through stages, but one that eventually embraces us all. Let’s carry each other.

If you’re still here, I’ll leave you with a final gift to give… To me/To my Mama. Every year for her birthday, my love-spreading mom requested this from anyone who would listen: “Do a random act of kindness in her honor and only ask the recipient ‘pay it forward’. Love people.”

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria Tramp | From: How To Style Out Your Outdoor Space So You’ll Actually Use It (No Matter How Big Or Small It Is)


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134 thoughts on “Grief Gifts… A ‘Roundup’ of Some Things and Some Free Ideas To Help The People You Love Who Are Going Through It

  1. Wow wow wow. And all I can keep thinking to post is more wows. Excellent post, like you said grief is universal and at anytime somebody you know is dealing with it. I’m feeling for you ♥️

  2. This is such a generous post! Thank you for your kind & thoughtful advice, & especially for sharing your late mother’s birthday request. All around solid, practical advice & hugely appreciated. Wishing you a bit of peace & comfort in this crazy time.

  3. Sweet ideas, velinda! A group of friends sent my grieving family meal delivery scheduled out with a few weeks in between. The first one was a surprise but it included the schedule and it was the nicest gesture.

    1. Isn’t it so lovely? I’m so happy to hear you had support and am sorry to hear you’re also familiar with grief. Sending love.

  4. Oh, what loss! I’m so sorry for all that you’ve faced. Thanks for channeling that grief into something creative for us. Sending all the best hopes for healing.

    To add to gifts for grief and pandemic life…

    Here’s a great company (a nonprofit employing women in recovery that makes bags out of all upcycled materials) –

    They have a whole collection of Gifts to Get You Through Pandemic including a fabric postcard we send on your behalf. You don’t even have to think of the message!
    Plus COVID safe sanitizable bags, masks with a matching clip on pouch, and more!

    Sending you love and comfort.

    1. Kelly, this is such a great resource. So appreciate you sharing and your kind words!

  5. I’m very very sorry to hear about all of your losses, particularly your marriage on top of all of it. I don’t know you but I am sending love to you.

  6. Made me cry, Valinda! What a hard time you’ve had. This year I’ve learned that much of society is scared to acknowledge grief (I’ve been scared of my own!), but after a year of more loss and tears than I thought possible, any of these suggestions would have been so welcome. We’re so quick to come together and support the happy times but it’s easy to shy away from the darkness. Sending a card or flowers or a candle to a grieving friend goes a long way to help that person feel seen and cared for – even (especially?) if they’re grieving the loss of a pet, a relationship, a job, or something else that isn’t always recognized.

  7. You are so generous to share these ideas while going through your own grief! I wish you so much healing in the days ahead.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing. I keep wondering when people are really going to share what this year has been like for them. Every time someone shares their honest experience it actually makes me feel better – less like we’re all ignoring the giant elephant in the room. All the best to you!

  9. Velinda,

    The root veggie card made me smile. Sounds like it’s been a very tough few years, BUT it also sounds like you have an amazing support group, and they are loving you hard. I’m grateful you have that.

    I lost both my parents in the last five years, and we were all really close. It’s been so hard, and I’m still coming to terms with how the grief affects so many aspects of my life. I deal with it every single day. People recommend books and or podcasts, and I wanted to pass on to you the one book that gave me so much comfort and actual joy. Have you read Signs by Laura Lynne Jackson? Definitely a little woo-woo for some people, but I am into it. It made me realize that my parents are still truly with me, and reading it has probably brought me more joy than anything I’ve been given or told or tried since my parents died. A friend mailed it to me, and I’ve since mailed it to others. It was exactly what I needed.

    Sending you love and light and a warm healthy meal if I lived close by.

    1. Thank you for suggesting this book–I just ordered it and it looks perfect. I “speak” to my mother daily and my sister, father and I do monthly readings with a local medium. This is right up my alley. I will be giving it to my father for Valentine’s day. I always thought that grief was something you could overcome—it’s not. Not when you really, really, really love someone. It is something that you live with and it impacts you physically and emotionally every single day. I will be passing this book onto others… Thank you for taking the time to share it.

  10. I’m so sad to hear of all the losses you have had to endure. Sometimes life just kicks the shit out of us, and there’s just no good way to make sense of it except to know that that’s the truth. You’ve had a lot to deal with in a short time (and all of it on top of a global pandemic and a past president that made everyday feel like a crisis for an entire 4 years). My heart is with you. I appreciate your honesty, vulnerability and generosity in sharing all that you did today. I am definitely rooting for you!

  11. I’m so sorry, Velinda! Thank you for sharing your grief and these wonderful ideas. My thoughts are with you. Please do take care.

  12. This is an incredible post. So many of us are grieving in unimaginable ways. And the call to help is seemingly constant. It’s so helpful to have concrete ideas of how to help.
    Thank you. And may we all heal well and fully.

  13. I am so sorry.
    Chesterton called it the fatal law of gravity–when you’re down, everything falls on you.
    And another dog can make their own place in your life. You never get the first one again, or the life you shared with them, but there can be a new dog. And you can love them.

    1. Chesterton was onto something! I ended up with a cat who thinks he’s a dog and that has definitely been a huge comfort!

  14. This was such a good, insightful compilation. Thank you for sharing your grief with us and for digging into those pains to help others. That must have been hard, but I’m grateful you saw this as an opportunity to invite others in and share your knowledge. Much love to you in this painful season of loss and transition. Thanks for sharing ❤️

    1. Thank you, Aimee! I do hope this helps others… it can be hard to know what to do. xxx

  15. Velinda, I am so sorry for all of your losses. You have a tremendous inner light that beams out of you and I am confident that it will help lead you to a happier place. So good that you have a wonderful support group to help you with that journey.

    1. Devin, thank you for sharing such a cool resource! And the doctor idea is stellar too. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been so knocked down too. It sounds like you have a great friend!!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing these ideas, and for sharing your grief along with it. 💕

    The Badvent calendar is a totally new idea to me, and a great one!

    Another great resource is

    I enjoy music, but I don’t really seek it out or go out of my way to find new artists. One of my musical friends will text me links to songs and they are always sooo good and welcomed. My favorite was Gold by Emily Anderson. I liked it so much that I got a paid subscription to Spotify so that I could make playlists with it in it.

    After a week of brutal, grief-induced anxiety, a friend called my doctor and made an appointment for me (I couldn’t even begin to pick up the phone). I didn’t know how much I needed that help. Heck, I didn’t even know that doctors could prescribe medication for short term anxiety relief. Within a day I was able to eat a bit of food again and focus on some work tasks. If a friend is in a really bad way, ask if they want to go to their doctor so they can just listen to the options.

    Also, if someone has experienced a traumatic event that is hard to explain or talk about, and they need to see a doctor (related to the event or not) you can offer to go to the doctor with them and explain on their behalf before they come into the room. This can help ease the anxiety of having to explain or re-live it over and over. Doctors need to know about grief, trauma, and anxiety because that can inform patient care.

    I learned this from a therapist and have used it with my parents after they experienced extreme trauma. You can always call/email someone else’s doctor/therapist and provide them with information about their patient. They will not be able to confirm that the person is a patient of their’s or respond with anything other than “thanks,” but they can use the new information to ask better questions during appointments. Of course this is best for really close relationships.

  17. This is such a great post – thank you! I’ve spent hours and hours looking for these sorts of things for friends and family members going through TOUGH stuff. We had so many people lose loved ones in 2020 I had to make a bulk order of sympathy cards. 🙁 Also, we have 4 frontline heathcare workers in our extended family and a TheraGun mini massager was a really appreciated gift.

  18. Velinda – this was such a lovely, helpful, and well thought out list. I’m sorry that you’ve had these life events that forced you to think this through so much (I’m reminded of how I feel in the Facebook group I’m in for families of babies/children newly diagnosed with a particular chromosomal duplication – “I’m sorry you had to find us but so glad you did”).

    For a variety of reasons you’ve been one of my favorite people here at EHD. I am truly sad for you (with you?) for the heartbreak you are enduring. Literally in my kitchen tearing up for you (not in a weird way – in a totally normal sympathetic way). Warm hugs and loving thoughts to you as you move through this time.

    1. Cris, your comment made ME tear up… so now we both have each other crying 🙂 Thank you so much.

  19. This list is excellent. My husband died unexpectedly in early 2019, and the previous year, a good friend lost her daughter. Cut to 2020, and, well, you know. So years on end of grief and trying to support one another. My son’s teacher at the time, who is married to a pastry chef, used to leave boxes of pastries (biscuits, croissants, king cake) on our porch. She never knocked or wanted to talk or even asked. Just left a surprise. Grocery deliveries and help with cleaning and organizing were a HUGE support. I have also never been more grateful to have a home and a yard. Back yard movie nights, entire weekends in our pajamas and just the comfort of home got us through it.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband! I’m sure the pain is still fresh and a trick to navigate, but your son’s teacher and you yard sound amazing! I’m so glad you’re also finding small joys through support in this time. Sending love.

  20. What a treasured gift this community is. Thank you for this post and your transparency. Sending you love.

  21. I am so sorry Velinda, I don’t know you but you seem like such a lovely person. So many hugs to you during there very hard time.

  22. I’m really sorry for all your losses, Velinda, and I admire how even so, you’re finding a way to convert your experiences into a way to help others. I enjoy the trend list posts too but my favorite posts here tend to be the very practical ones and this one is perhaps addressing a topic that has the biggest gulf between intent and what’s actually effective. Thank you for sharing your hard-won wisdom.

  23. I’m so sorry Velinda! Thank you for sharing. I wish I could hug you.
    I know I’m a stranger to you but I have followed your work for years and you are one of my favourite designers. I always enjoy your posts so much. As that wonderful card says, we’re rooting for you!
    And thank you for all these solid, specific ideas. This post will be a very helpful resource for many people and for a long time. I know I’ll be coming back to it often.
    Sending you lots of love from Canada!

    1. Vera, thank you for the Canadian love and for your lovely words about my designs. So appreciate you rooting for me 🙂 Sending love back.

  24. Oh Velinda. Sending you so much love and comfort. Know you are loved by all of these strangers who are part of the EHD internet family. We are wishing you comfort and future laughter and joy.

    Thank you for taking time in your grief to be vulnerable and help others.

  25. That’s a lot of great ideas!

    And wow. I had no idea how much you’ve been through, but I’ve been reading along for so long that I remember the moments- the new kitchen in your basement for your mom. Your wedding. All your house projects and your professional projects that were posted here. I’m glad your friends have been there for you. Here’s to healing and joy in 2021.

    1. Roberta, thank you so much for following along and encouraging me on this journey. xxx

      1. You will come through it and you will find joy again, in spite of the fact that all this sadness will be with you forever, too.

  26. Oh, Velinda! 😔 I’m so sorry to hear this. I really feel for you. xx
    I think of you with this new curly hair (used to be absolutely straight) the chemo gave me (I’m just grateful for the hair, frankly!) and reflect on your beautiful, beautiful curls!
    You are as beautiful as your curls and your lovely energy is a tangible thing that is felt across the world through the internet.
    Sending you huge hugz and healing energy. xx ❤

    It speaks volumes that you wrote a post to help others in their grief/what friends can do for those grieving. That’s paying it forward right there!

    I think my favourite is the “Badvent Calendar”! Amazingly creative. 🤗

    Being there … listening and holding space is so important.
    Just being, sitting quietly helps. Not every silence needs to be filled.
    Crying together is immensely bonding-crazy, but true.

    With all I’m going through, my best friend has been there.
    We’ve been there for each other as I ended my decades long relationship mid-pandemic (coercive control/domestic abuse) and having chemo.
    She has been going through breast cancer/mastectomy/failed reconstruction.
    We laugh at “us” as we went through chemo together (who knew, all those decades ago in uni, that this would be “us”!?) and take turns in being the giver, but sometimes we end up snotty, red-faced and crying our hearts out together, with and for each other.

    It all counts.
    It’s the compassion and being present that helps heal the mind and soul.
    Wishing calm and healing for all beings who are suffering. xx

    1. Oh Rusty, I’m so sorry you guys are IN IT! Chemo is just…. well, you know. I’m glad you have your old friend by your side. New curls! Well, that’s a fun surprise.

      The badvent calendar was just amazing. I can’t wait to pass it along! Sending you love back. I hope you find continued comfort in your own journey of healing. xxx

      1. Your curls give me inspiration that I might learn how to tame mine. They’re permanently my new ‘do’ and not reverting to straight!?!
        I’m working through different products, but money’s tight, so it’s a challenge.

        Maybe a ‘fashion’ post on managing curls???
        I’d pore over it and take notes! Yours are gorgeous flowy. Very aspirational! 😊
        Mxxmwwaahh!! xx

  27. Thank you for sharing your grief and your ideas with all of us. Doing so will help a lot of people feel less alone, I’m sure. Sending you all the love and healing wishes.

  28. Oh Velinda, I am so so sorry for everything that you have gone through. Losing a partner is bad; losing a partner + best friend dog + Mom is inconceivable. You are smart, gorgeous and talented and you’ll end up with the person that you are meant to be with.

  29. Oh, Velinda. God what a ****storm. My heart is broken for you and Katie and your precious pup *and* your mom. Even just typing all of that (from me, a stranger, feels obscene). And you still show up here to pay it forward. Thank you.

    I’ve become friends with grief over the last ten years as one family member after another passes over. As such, I feel completely qualified to say your list is brilliant. *You* are brilliant. Even in your earth-shattering grief, you shine. I have loved being part of this community to read your writing, get your perspective, and hear your unique take. This post and all the weight that comes with it, just adds to the breadth and depth of your humanity.

    Some books or books on tape that might help: Signs, Broken Open, and Tiny Beautiful Things. Laurel Box is a subscription that can send gifts on specific dates (the landmines like anniversaries birthdays etc). A person to take care of flowers much like the food help you mentioned above would be great too. There’s something about moldy flower smelly water that overwhelms me. Also since you mentioned the woo: Do Dead People Watch You Shower is surprisingly super (and offers the dark humor I so desperately need).

    Sending you so much love and thanks.

    1. Sara, I can’t tell you how much your words mean. And I will definitely be putting these books on my Audible list for my walks! Do Dead People Watch you Shower may be where I start… I LOVE that title and, like you, always need some good dark humor. Sending love back!

  30. I think this is my favorite post I’ve read on this website.
    Valinda, I am so sorry for your losses. I’m sending love and will definitely do an act of kindness in honor of your mother.
    Thank you so much for these wonderful ideas. (A Badvent Calendar. Amazing!)

  31. Velinda, this a wonderful roundup. I have been both on the receiving and giving end of many such gifts. Food deliveries and meal services were welcome post surgery for me, and we now do the same for my overwhelmed sister, who is teaching and parenting two teens through this pandemic. We are considering gifting her a cleaning service, as well. Weighted blankets are wonderful for helping ease anxiety and promote deep sleep. Cards, especially homemade ones are so special. Really, finding a way to let those suffering that they are in your thoughts is so valuable. For you Velinda, I hope you are the recipient of much support and comfort during this difficult time. I know how important friends and family are through the loss of a parent and a divorce. I hope you are surrounded in love.

    1. Suzanne, sorry to hear about your own loss. It sounds like we share a love of weighted blankets!! I so appreciate your kind words.

    2. Suzanne!
      What kind/brand of weighted blanket do you recommend???
      My friend and I both would like one, but they’re pricey so we’re a bit scared to do it.

      1. Hi Rusty, I have a Sheltered Co. Blanket. She uses deadstock fabric, and they are crocheted, which I find a unique look compared to the knitted ones. They are really pricey, though, and they don’t typically go on sale.

        I almost tried the Bearaby weighted blanket. They are a bit less expensive, and I think they have sales or promo codes sometimes. I like that they are organic cotton or other eco friendly fabrics.

        They are also sold at West Elm:

        Good luck!

        1. Oh, thank you!!
          If something’s great, itsworth the $. I just can’t afford to get burned by spending on junk.
          My best friend and I are going to buy one each, but my job is to find the right one! Yikes!
          I’ll check ’em out n see if they’re viable to buy from Australia. xx

        2. K, the Sheltered Co. are out of my price range and the Bearaby ones are out of stock! BUT, I’ve bookmarked Bearaby and will keep an eye out. I’ll also check our local West Elm (they’re in Australia too) to see if ghey sell them.
          Thank you so much for your kindness in steering me in the tight direction, Suzanne. xx

          1. My pleasure, Rusty. I hope you have luck at you local West Elm. And I think they offer promo codes occasionally, too!

          2. Rusty, the Bearaby blankets are available on their website. I know because I’ve been to their website everyday since Christmas hoping for them to restock 🙃

            They have a few colors in the velvet and a bunch of colors in the cotton. I took the leap a couple of weeks ago and bought the navy cotton 20lb. It arrives TODAY! I totally get the hesitancy bc of the price and I’m happy to report back my opinion after I test mine out, if you’d like.

            In good news, I’ve emailed with their customer service person re: shipping and he has been so responsive, funny and kind. So they’ve got that going for them too in addition to the most eco friendly no plastic anywhere weighted blanket.

            I’m really hoping it helps my anxiety and, even with 3 kiddos who wake occasionally, that it improves the quality of my sleep!

            Best of luck in your quest!

          3. Sara, thank you so much!
            I’ll check them again.
            I hope it’s great and you love it!
            Mmwaaah! x

        1. Thanks, Sarah! xx
          Only prob is I’m in Australia and our version of Target is crappy. The businis failing, it’s that bad, with stores closing all over the country.
          Kmart here is great, but they don’t stock them.

        1. Gah! $87 delivery to Australia!
          I’ll have a look on Amazon Australia, though they don’t carry much compared to the real Amazon!

  32. Thank you from my heart, Velinda, for your beautiful, touching share. I awoke this morning and poured my heart into an email speaking of my own grief, and how I’m practicing with it. Then I went online during lunch and found your post here. So resonant. Again, thank you.

    I don’t know whether it’s okay to share this here, but this is from my own morning writings (there’s one typo, for the copyediting police in attendance:), but I can’t change it because it went out in a newsletter). With love, always.

    1. Dana,

      Thank you so much for sharing your own grief post. It looks like we are doing a lot of the same things with our week… but WOW, acupuncture practice must really help with the ‘body keeping the score’ piece of grieving! What a gift. I’m sending love for whatever you’re going through. Thank you again for sharing as well!

  33. That is so much to go through, Velinda. I’m so sorry.

    Thank you so much for posting this and acknowledging the grief a lot of us (myself included) are experiencing. It can feel like grief is invisible right now because everyone is already so burned out by the pandemic. It’s so nice for that to feel seen.

    My best tip for grief gifts:

    If supporting a grieving family, try to address or acknowledge each person in the family, not just the family as a whole. It’s not one world collapsing, it’s one world for each family member. So instead of sending one large gift, maybe consider sending a smaller gift to each person.

    1. Sarah,

      What a great point you make about everyone’s individual worlds falling apart. I’m so sorry to hear you’re trudging through it too. I see you and I’m sending love!


  34. Velinda,
    What a brave and beautiful post from one of the bravest and most beautiful people I know. I’m sorry you’ve had such tidal waves of loss, one after another. Thank you for making a gift of your own grief and bringing more love into the world. All my love always – Ramlah

  35. Oh, Velinda. I am so sorry. My heart is with you. I was in a similar place with my ex-wife a year and a half ago. The pain of a broken heart is so real. These are wonderful suggestions. You are so loved, and valued, and you will make it through this. Friend support meant everything to me during that time. Know that your internet “friends” here are rooting for you through this too <3

    1. Jillian, not sure why, but I got super teary (good tears) by the idea I have internet friends. So appreciated. Thank you for sharing your own experience too! xxx

      1. I often felt like there was an extra layer of grief/guilt/shame (internalized from society) with being a queer couple that “didn’t make it.” Like, we’re the one that fought hard for it, shouldn’t it be more foolproof… I know it’s BS but it was hard to turn that off sometimes.
        In any case- you definitely have internet friends here. I’m so glad you feel it. <3

  36. This is such a helpful list! I’m so very sorry for all you have been through and are going through, Velinda. I hope things start to turn around for you this year.

  37. My heart goes out to you Velinda. When my partner of 10 years unexpectedly fell ill and died, my two adult children gave me a weighted animal. I had never heard of such a thing but it has given me so much comfort, company, solace, and peace in these sad and lonely times. Originally designed for children on the autism spectrum, the animals are gaining popularity with others as well. I gifted one to a friend who is enduring cancer treatments and she called it “magical.” You can find them at

    1. Robin, my god, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot. I’m so sorry! I had never heard of this weighted animal, but I love it. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Velinda, My heart is breaking for you.
    And it’s not fair!
    I don’t want you to be so hurt and in pain!
    I don’t like it!
    Sadly, it just is, and though I’d wish it away for you if I could…..
    Please know you are not alone…we’re with you. Be well. I pray for your strength and good friends. Sending love your way, always.

    1. Karen, thank you for your sensitive words. Indeed, it ISN’T fair…. THANK you for saying that 🙂 I appreciate you taking time to send love.

  39. Hi Velinda,
    What a wonderful compilation with so many unique thoughts that are new. Thanks you for sharing them while in the midst of experiencing some of the hardest losses, an incredibly loving Mom too early and a partner you thought was your life mate. I wish I could hug you. It isn’t fair. We have had our own losses and pain and your voice was helpful and brave. It is a gift to your Mom. She would be proud of you.

    1. Nancy!!

      Hello! Thank you so much for your lovely words. I’m so sorry you’ve been going through it too. Sending you all love!


  40. I lost my dad recently to Covid & I have to say, all of these ideas are really great. I will definitely be bookmarking this for the future when I am able to give back to someone else in the same way my loved ones have given so much to me.

    1. Dana, I’m just so sorry to hear about your Dad. Sending loving and healing energies/thoughts your way. I’m so glad you have people there to give!

  41. BEFORE CONSIDERING TO DONATE CLOTHES FROM A PASSED LOVED ONE – Consider commissioning a memory lap / or full size quilt for each family member with special pieces of clothing to make the pattern. More than a dozen years later, I still use a quilt from my brother’s too early passing daily. The backing is flannel and it is quite sturdy.

  42. Oh, Velinda. I am so very sorry about all of your huge losses. I also have greatly enjoyed your posts throughout the years and admire your talent and heart. And this list is the best, longest, and most varied one I’ve ever seen or heard of (and I’m 61)—so generous of you. Most of all, I am SO sorry about the end of your marriage, just tearing up again as I type this, remembering your beautiful wedding post. Sometimes life is just too hard. Sending love and hope to you.

  43. Thank you for your heart spilling generosity. I’m so sorry you had your world flipped upside down…. and shaken and torn. This is so much to go through. Your openness is permission for others to heal and feel less alone. Thank you! Love the calendar idea! I’m rooting for you too.

  44. I’m so sorry for your loss. People complaining that they can’t eat in restaurants, masks are uncomfortable, it’s not serious etc. just make me want to scream. We lost my father-in-law almost a month ago from Covid. We had not seen him since January 2020, other than FaceTime calls, out of an abundance of caution. He did everything right. The only place he went was to the drs. yet still he is gone. We will all lose during the pandemic but if the worse you lose is personal freedom then consider yourself blessed.

    1. Don’t grocery shop when hungry and don’t post when angry at the news. Sorry! I am grateful for my sisters, who donated to a group that reforests national lands. A grove of trees will be planted in my FILs name in the state we live. The card came with tree charms for my kids. We also received several nice potted plants but the size of them was overwhelming so if sending live plants, think small and tabletop. I did list the planters on our local Kindness FB group for someone interested in repotting into smaller pots or keeping as is and immediately found two new homes for them. The best gift though is just reaching out a week or so after. We felt ready to talk then and it was good to hear from friends. Winter has made it hard to get together safely.

    2. Sarah, I’m just so sorry to hear about your father in law. Sending healing wishes & love your way. It’s just so hard to navigate and I’m so sorry.

  45. Dearest Velinda, I perked up when I saw your name on the byline. I’ve long considered you my favorite contributor, as much for your design, as for your laugh-out-loud and wise prose. My heart physically hurt when reading of your heartbreak. You will absolutely become someone’s truth again. For now, please accept my humble girl-crush as a minuscule consolation prize.
    PS I’m a hospice nurse and hadn’t thought of many of the gifts you suggest, so thank you!

  46. My heart is with you. So sorry for all you’re walking through. I too am grieving the unexpected and unwanted end of my marriage right now, and so many of these ring true for me. Beautiful list. And one that I may share next time someone says, “What do you need?”

    I have been learning through this struggle how to let people help me. As a strong Type-A woman, I’m not used to asking for help, I’m not good at delegating what needs to get done, and I don’t like letting people see me when I feel like I’m less than my best. I’m still learning how to let go of the guilt, and I’m pushing myself to reach out when the hardness hits. At the end of my workday on Friday, I felt SO very lonely and sad, with only my to-do list for work and home on the horizon for the weekend. So … I sent a text to a few friends I hadn’t seen for awhile. And an unplanned yesterday soon filled with a socially distanced early morning walk, an afternoon cup of coffee, and an evening visit.

    I’m holding onto the hope that while this is a tough season, there are brighter days ahead. And I believe that for you as well. Peace be with you.

  47. Oh my goodness, my heart hurts for you. I am so sorry for all of your losses.
    Sending all good vibes your way:)

  48. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing a piece of your story. This year has been so hard for so many of us. It helps to hear from others that are also having a rough go. You feel less alone. I’m so sorry that you are going through this loss. But there are brighter days ahead. Trust that you will feel the sun on your face once again and all will be right.

  49. Dear Velinda, wow I was so sad to hear about your separation, and very moved by this post. Great ideas, great reminders, and thank you for talking about grief. We are all going through it so much, even those without loss. Big hugs to you and tenderness for your spirit 🙏🏾❤️🍷

  50. Girl, I’m sending you love. That is so much for a short amount of time. Thank you for these ideas. They are unfortunately very timely and useful.

  51. Velinda, I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes for all you’ve gone through. Losing your mom and beloved dog is crushing but adding the loss of your marriage would take anyone over the edge. Yet here you are giving us, people you’ve never met, such good ideas for gifts to help those grieving. I’ve always enjoyed your posts and am just in awe that, at this point in your grief, you’re offering us a way to send love in the form of a gift.
    I have a friend who lost her father and husband within a few months and, like you, she’s been so forthright about how rough it’s been. I’ve been struggling to figure out what to send her, as we live miles apart, but now I have a wealth of suggestions that are amazing!
    I’m sending light and love your way, dear Velinda xoxo

    1. Sheila, thank you so much. And UGH I just feel for your friend… but she’s lucky to have someone thinking of/looking out for her in you!

  52. Hi Velinda,
    I also lost my mom to stage 4 ovarian cancer – five weeks from diagnosis to death – when I was 8 months pregnant. My father passed away 14 months later. That was 8 years ago and I’m still coming to terms with it all. It sometimes feels like only people who have also lost a parent truly understand how devastating it is. Just sending you good thoughts and know you are not alone.

    1. Christina, ugh, that is SO much too all in a short time. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s true, it doesn’t stop affecting you, even when it seems ‘less raw’ at times.

  53. Oh Velinda. Thank you for this post. My heart aches for you. You are so right that trauma and pain seems to abound… I’ve had a very rough past year, both intangible loss (gesturing broadly at 2020) and very very real named loss. This post helps me to feel seen and is so appreciated. Thanks for coming back and bringing this message. Sending all of the hugs.

    1. Cassie, sending my thoughts for you in your time of loss. Thank you for your comment.

  54. I’m so very sorry to hear this, Velinda, and your courage in this post shines through. I still struggle with my own sudden loss of both parents (we spoke about this briefly last month) and that was 12 years ago. The only think I have to add to all the amazing comments is to acknowledge the loss of this relationship and how it tied into your mom. It’s so very hard to know that your life won’t continue on this path your mom knew and embraced, and that you can’t share this change with her. Your new normal is evolving and there is beauty in your new direction, but this sh*t is hard. Hugs.

    To the folks struggling with how to support someone in their grief, the only additional advice I have is to talk. Reach out to the grieving person, even when you’re afraid you’ll say the wrong thing or don’t even know what to say. The acknowledgment is what is important, and honestly there are no words that will make this better. This type of fear made me feel so isolated in my loss, even when I knew I had support.

    1. Thank you, Katie. Yes, you’re so right…. this veering of paths is an extra loss of connection with my mom/the me she knew. It’s definitely a hard factor to face. Thank you for adding to the advice, Katie. You’re, unfortunately, an expert as well.

  55. Your post made me tears-eyed. I dealt with some big losses in 2020, the biggest being my mama. I can’t imagine losing the love of my life alongside that grief, so my heart goes out to you.
    Your ideas in the post were excellent. I was nodding my head yes as I went through your list. I appreciated every gift, sentiment, card, plant, meal etc sent my way. I’m sending you extra love today.

  56. Man, I’m not even sure why this hit me so hard, this year has been mostly fine for me other than ruining some travel and wedding plans. Thank you, Velinda, for sharing such raw emotion and using it to inspire good. Sending good vibes your way.

  57. I just finished reading The Beauty of What Remains by Steve Leder. He’s a rabbi who has helped over a thousand families through death and dying but claims he knew nothing until his own father passed away recently. I didn’t know anything about the Jewish rituals surrounding death so I found his perspective, his experience, and the rituals of his faith to be quite moving. In particular, the Jewish rituals seem to provide structure in an otherwise difficult and messy period. His thoughts on so many different kinds of losses have been turning over in my brain ever since I read the book. While I originally got the book from the library, I’m planning to order a copy for my home library. It was a comfort I’m not ready to let go of.

    I’m so sorry for your losses. Thank you for sharing your perspective — and the Badvent calendar (!!!) — with us.

  58. Velinda, Thank you for your honesty and your kind heart. I love many of these ideas, a few of which I hadn’t thought of. I’m so so sorry about your marriage and really glad you have a wonderful group of caring friends. They can make all the difference. And as someone who lost my mom when I was a young adult, you’ll never stop missing her, but the sharpness of the loss does ease over time. (Though over 30 years later I still tear up looking at certain photos.) I don’t know you, of course, but from reading your posts over time, I can tell you are a strong, caring, and talented person. I and a lot of other folks, I’m sure, are rooting for you!

  59. What a wonderful, generous, touching post! I loved every suggestion, made with such thoughtfulness. xxx’s

  60. I’m not sure if anyone is still reading these comments, but I relate to a lot of this. I unexpectedly lost my mother a few weeks ago and lot of this list hits home. A few things I will add, that especially during COVID, so much is very impersonal. We couldn’t see who attended the ZOOM funeral, so it meant so much to me when a friend texted me shortly after it ended to comment on it, since it made me feel like I hadn’t been alone in that moment. I’ve also really appreciated friends who have texted a few weeks after the fact and asked if I was up for a phonecall vs just saying they were there for me, which was nice but not a prompt I personally respond to. Frozen soups were much appreciated since I could save them for when I needed it since more food came in in the first week then we could eat but the second week is when I had to return to work and be semi functional.

    Also, for your random google search of your friends dad, hopefully she is in touch with medical providers and this is just my random experience that is likely irrelevant, but I wanted to share that my dad’s Alzheimer’s first presented as delirium after being hospitalized for pneumonia, which is apparently a common occurrence.

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