The holidays are such a joyous time for most, but for people who are grieving the holidays can bring about much sadness. The loss of a loved one can feel all-consuming most days but often during the holiday season that feeling is magnified with reminders of years past and what could have been. So in all of the busyness and merriment of the season, it’s important to remember those who are grieving at Christmas — by ensuring they feel loved, remembered, and supported.
But how do we do that, and what does that look like? Many people often worry they will say or do the wrong thing. But in most cases people simply want to know that we have not forgotten their loved one. That their grief is real and just, even during a joyful season. It’s not about the perfect words or a perfect gift, it’s simply the act of remembering that means so much.
Today I wanted to share some ideas to help encourage those who are missing someone this year. While these are not the only things we can do, I hope you find them encouraging and helpful.
Pick up the phone.
Many people think of Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a day when you shouldn’t call someone who is grieving because those are “special” days. In all actuality, those are the days that can be the loneliest of days for those who are grieving. Anytime during the season would mean so much, though. Mention their loved one by name and share a happy memory.
Send a letter.
A hand-written letter can mean so much to someone who is hurting during the holiday season. It shows you took the time to think about them and acknowledges their pain. Write down your thoughts and prayers, and perhaps even tangible memories of their loved one. If you have good memories of the person you haven’t shared before, a letter would be a lovely way to do so.
Send a thoughtful gift.
Whether it’s someone who has lost a child or a parent, or a family navigating illness or divorce, think about reaching out in love. People who are hurting or missing someone will not be offended if you do — in fact, they will be so thankful. We have many ideas in our Sympathy Gift Guide. I love the red cardinal ornaments from Fig & Dove and all they symbolize: Lost loved ones, and that we are always in the presence of those who have gone before us. Their white acrylic doves symbolize hope, and this Bottle of Tears Christmas gift set is so lovely as well.
Include them in your plans.
Ask your friend or family member if they’d like to join you for Christmas dinner or your church’s Christmas Eve service. Or even a holiday outing. This could be something as simple as going on a walk, driving around to look at lights, or buying tickets to a movie or local theatre performance for the two of you to enjoy. Being around others is so important for everyone during this time — especially those who are experiencing grief. But do understand if they decline your offer, and keep reaching out.
Remember children who have lost a parent, as well as widows and widowers.
Especially those who are managing the holidays by themselves for the first time. See if you can help with gifts, gift shopping or wrapping, or if they need help carrying on a special tradition. Offer to put lights up on their house and decorations in their yard. Consider arranging a group of friends to go Christmas caroling in front of their house. These simple things mean so much to children (and adults, too) and bring them so much joy.
Little acts of kindness and remembrance go a long way in letting the people in our lives who we love know they are loved in return.
What would you add to this list?