Ways to Offer Comfort to a Bereaved Parent during the Holidays

Bereaved parent holidays

Ways to Offer Comfort to a Bereaved Parent during the Holidays:

• Remember our child(ren) and say their name(s) because that helps us to know that they are forever remembered. We are thinking of them all the time and hearing their name(s) IS the most precious gift you can offer.

• If you send a card don’t be afraid to include their name(s) because they will always be a vital part of our families.

• Give to a charity in memory of our child(ren) or donate a book(s) to a library in honor of them.

• Ask us to share something that our child(ren) enjoyed doing during the holidays or any day for that matter. The asking is a healing balm to our heart.

• Invite us over and if we say, “yes,” and then need to say, “no” because we have used up all of our courage for the day, please do not take it personally and remember to ask us again.

• Please understand that there is not a “one size fits all” in the seasons of grief and that just because we have navigated all the “firsts” doesn’t mean that we’re “over anything.”

• Be willing to companion us and just sit with us and hold a safe non-judgmental space. There is no need to be worrying about what to say because truly your heartfelt presence is enough… more than enough. Most of all we don’t need to be reminded of all that we should be grateful for. We are grateful, just maybe not in this moment. In order to heal we must feel and sit with what is and there are no bypasses or quick fixes with this.

• Remember a human touch, a hug, a hand in ours brings connection and for a bereaved parent isolation and not wanting to spoil things for others is the “mask” we often believe we must wear. It becomes heavy and cumbersome. To be able to remove it and just BE, however we need to BE, is where our healing is.

“The people who helped me the most were the ones who had no problem crawling in the ditch with me and lying with me in the middle of my pain without needing to fix it or make it better. The one’s who would remember to say my son’s name long after everyone else had stopped saying it. True empathy and love are the two things that saved me. People who can offer a bereaved parent true compassion are absolutely priceless.” (Angela Miller) Amen, sister, Amen.

This holiday perhaps YOU might BE that gift for a bereaved parent, and not just this holiday season, ALL year long. 

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Joanie Evans Madsen is a former elementary school teacher, hospital chaplain and mother to Douglas and Sarah. She is a very proud Mimi to three wonderful Littles who live on Maui. Joanie thrives on meaningful and soulful connections with others and offers Spiritual Direction and Bereavement Care. She is often found with her sisters of the heart on ForMomsOnly: www.formomsonly.org and you may also connect with her by email: joanemadsen@gmail.com.


  1. How true! Everyone worries what to say but it just matters that we are there for our loved ones. I love you very much and I miss Brock very much and I will miss him this Christmas.
    Aunt Sherry Jo


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