When considering offering a gift in memory of the deceased, it is difficult to know all of the customs and rituals that each religion or tradition may observe. There are several items to bring or send that would express appropriate condolences to a grieving family in the Shinto religion. The type of gift is often dependent upon the relationship shared with the deceased and family.

The following are several ways to show respect for the deceased and to share care and compassion for the bereaved.

Food, Meals and Sympathy Baskets

The gift of food to the family is often an appropriate expression of condolence, but it will depend upon the traditions followed by the family, as well as specific circumstances and needs.

The practices of Shinto will vary by the religious sect and by the traditions in a particular location. Some traditions suggest that the family supplies all of the food prior to the cremation.

The kichu-fuda day of intense mourning would be an appropriate time to offer a gift of food to the family. In this day of mourning, family members are to stay inside the house and perform rituals and accept the condolences of friends. The tradition of koden is a gift of money from friends to the family to help offset the costs of the funeral. Providing gifts of food meets a very practical need during the time of grief.

As a rule, where gifts of food would be considered appropriate, vegetarian food would be most welcomed.


Flowers as a gift of honor or tribute for the deceased are usually welcomed at the home of the family or at the grave site. Flowers are traditionally changed at the site weekly by the family. A gift of flowers given to the family to be used at the grave site is a sign of thoughtfulness and compassion. Calling the family ahead of time assures knowledge of family preferences and needs.


Shinto teachings would affirm that donations may be made to charitable organizations, religious projects or individuals in need in memory of the deceased. Some bereaved families will conduct special ceremonies where family and friends can donate to a specific cause on behalf of the deceased. Such giving honors the deceased and is a tangible way to show the family that their loved one is cared for and remembered.

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