What to Say on Someone's First Holiday Without a Loved One

Published December 6, 2021
husband comforting grieving wife during holidays

For someone who is experiencing their first major holiday without someone they loved deeply, the occasion is anything but merry and bright. Don't ignore people who are grieving a fresh loss during the holidays, but choose your words carefully. Rather than relying on chipper and upbeat holiday greetings and off-the-shelf cards, let them know you're thinking about them in a way that demonstrates both empathy and sensitivity. The sayings and poems below can help you do just that.

Holiday Messages for the First Year Without a Loved One

hugging friend during holidays after loss of loved one

When you see, speak with, or write to someone who has recently lost a loved one, keep their difficult and painful circumstances in mind when communicating with them about the holiday season. Instead of wishing them "Happy Holidays," "Merry Christmas," or a "Joyeux Noël," opt for a greeting that indicates you respectfully realize they're not likely to feel merry or joyous at this time. Consider messages like these:

  • May all the love you've experienced in your life make you feel warm and embraced this holiday season.
  • Hold on to what comforts you from holidays past, but expect this year to be different.
  • Don't try to force this holiday season to be the same as previous years. Do what feels right.
  • Whatever you need to navigate the holidays this year, I am here for you.
  • This holiday season, make it your top priority to take care of yourself and allow yourself to heal.
  • As the holidays approach, I am remembering [insert name of departed loved one] and sending you great love and wishes for strength and peace.
  • This year, I want you to know I am here in whatever way you need. Think of me as a shoulder to lean on or an ear ready to hear anything that you'd like to share.
  • Don't try to be all things to all people. This holiday season, focus on you and what you need.

Christmas Card Quotes After the Loss of a Loved One

writing thoughtful holiday card

If a close friend or family member is facing their first Christmas following the death of a loved one, don't just send an off-the-shelf Christmas card with a standard signature. Instead, choose a card with a peaceful message. Opt for a blank card, or one with a brief, preprinted message focused on peace (rather than joy or merriment). Add a personalized touch that acknowledges that this year is different for them, with one of the following sayings:

  • I wish I could take away your loss. What I can do is make sure you know that you are loved.
  • Wishing you peace this holiday season, and renewal throughout the coming year.
  • Thinking of you during this difficult time with wishes for peace and love in the days to come.
  • You are on my mind every day, even more so during this holiday season.
  • You are loved and I am here for you. I am always just a phone call or a text message away.
  • You matter to me; not just during the holidays, but every day.
  • This holiday season, focus on the fact that you always have been, and always will be loved.

Poems for the First Holiday Without a Loved One

Sometimes you need more than just a quote to convey the message you'd like to share with a grieving friend or relative. These brief original poems may provide a way to help you comfort and support someone who is experiencing their first holiday season without an important person in their life.

I'll Follow Your Lead

by Mary White

Today is the day before you right now
I'm here to help you get through it somehow.
Your experience is unique; it's no one's but your own
How this season will impact you is still today unknown.

There's certainly not one right way to feel
No one knows exactly how to help you heal.
Don't let people pressure you
They're well-meaning but may not know what to do.

I'm here for you as much or as little as you need
Just let me know and I will follow your lead.

I Celebrate You

by Mary White

Facing the holidays after a loss is so hard
Your heart, I know, feels so scarred.
It may seem that there's no happiness to be had
What once brought you joy may now leave you sad.

However you are doing, whatever way you feel
Your emotions are valid, your feelings are real.
There's not a perfect answer to navigating the holiday season
Do what you need, whatever the reason.

Wherever you go and whatever you do
No matter what, I celebrate you.

Share Holiday Love With Those Grieving a Loss

If you're looking to offer support to someone you care about who is facing their first holiday season without someone they love, it can be hard to know how to broach the subject. A heartfelt quote or poem can provide a powerful way to convey your intent. The right message can open the door for a healing conversation if that's something the person who is grieving is ready to do, but don't force the issue. Simply expressing that you care and acknowledging their grief can help them navigate the unbelievably difficult first holiday without a loved one.

What to Say on Someone's First Holiday Without a Loved One