Ways to Express Sympathy Grow Beyond Flowers
"People are looking for a special way to express their sympathy," says Renee Wood, founder of the Comfort Company (http://www.thecomfortcompany.net/), "and the more we learn about grief, the more we understand how important it is to send a gift that will provide comfort and support in the weeks and months following a loss."
That is why more and more people are turning to tangible and everlasting gifts such as those provided by the Comfort Company. People are learning to express their sorrow in different ways and are changing their focus of sympathy gift giving by acknowledging the loss of a loved one, rather than minimizing it.
Tear bottles are one such example of an alternative to a traditional sympathy gift; they offer comfort and remembrance to the grieving. The tear bottle dates back to the days of ancient Rome and Egypt where mourners would collect tears and bury them with loved ones to show honor and devotion. They made a comeback during the Victorian era, but tradition had changed: tears were collected in bottles with special stoppers and once the tears evaporated, the mourning period ended, but the bottle remained a token of eternal devotion. Today, they are given to express sympathy.
"Giving a gift that focuses on the living, while remembering the one who has passed away, is our main goal," Wood said. "Gifts such as memorial benches, garden stones, cremation jewelry, gift trees, customized inscription frames and journals all serve to celebrate life, while treasuring the past."
The Comfort Company was born out of necessity. Wood was not able to find an appropriate gift for a family member who had recently experienced the loss of her father. Wood came up with an idea to design a piece of jewelry and sketched a teardrop-shaped pendant with a forget-me-not flower embedded in the design; she accompanied it with a personalized verse.
Wood soon began to believe that there must be others who felt the same way and would appreciate such a personal keepsake. After many hours of interviewing people about the grief process and trying to discover what people need and want, she learned that people want and need to grieve. They do not desire to have their pain taken away, but want it acknowledged, so they can begin to heal.
Two years ago, Wood appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show and was acknowledged for starting her own business after advice she received from an article in "O" magazine; she founded the company in 2000. She has a master's degree in social work and lives with her husband and four daughters in Geneva, Illinois.