Holidays are (to say the least) difficult when a loved one has died. You, as a friend, can ease that pain at least a little bit. Here are some hints, from What Should I Say? The Right (and Wrong!) Words and Deeds from Life's Sticky, Tricky, Uncomfortable Situations.
- Do not be afraid to mention the name of the person who has died. You will NOT be bringing up something the family is not thinking about! They will find comfort in remembering their loved one, even if it brings tears.
- You don't have to say the "right" words; nothing you (or anyone else!) can say will make it "all better." You can, however, aid in the healing process by letting the person talk.
- If you don't know what to say, say, "I wish there was something I could say to take away your heartache!" and give a big hug.
- It's OK to say things like, "I know she loved Christmas; it's hard to not have her here to celebrate," "I know the holidays can be difficult after the loss of a loved one; I'm thinking of you during this time." "I sure miss him and I bet you do too. Is there anything I can do to make it easier?"
- Pray for your friend to be comforted with memories of the loved one who has died.
- Consider sending a card with comforting Bible verses, memories of the loved one, or sharing a happy memory.
- Do NOT have a preconceived notion of how the person "should" spend the holidays; some people choose to start new traditions, while others find comfort in carrying on old ones. Support your friend in whatever he/she chooses to do.
- Invite the person (and other family members, if appropriate) to church events, shopping, or out for hot chocolate.