Holiday Greetings in These Difficult Times

Posted on December 1, 2020 by Published by

Check the holiday card aisle in your favorite store. You’ll see “Happy Holidays!” and “Happy Hanukkah!” and “Merry Christmas!” – all messages of light and joy. Yet the holidays are not “happy” or “merry” for families who coped with death during the year.

In 2020, the issues are even more complicated because, due to COVID, all of us are grieving in some way. As with those whose loved one died (whether of COVID or not), many have “primary losses” – a business failed, they were laid off or furloughed, a home burned in the wildfires or flooded in hurricanes, etc. These grieving people require particular sensitivity.

Even those without primary losses, though, are dealing with grief. Here’s just a couple of examples:

  • the inability to gather with friends and family
  • loss of security and safety
  • change in role as they learn to work remotely and/or become in-home tutors to kids who are schooling remotely
  • shattering of plans and dreams for the spring, summer, and fall (including having to let go of many long-standing holiday traditions that can’t happen this year).

As I’m sure you can imagine, the list could continue for pages.

In other words, this holiday season is a time fraught with emotion, grief, and loss. When you send an upbeat “happy” card, the recipients know you don’t understand at all. They do not feel supported or cared for. They may feel hurt or even more alone.

Instead, recognize both sides of the equation – the happy and sad, the joys and the losses. Do so by first choosing a holiday card that wishes peace or comfort or has a wordless lovely scene on the front. Ensure that the text is equally sensitive to the situation. Then make sure you also include hand-written words from you.

These are some suggestions for different circumstances, which you can use, adapt, combine, or personalize:

  • “This holiday season is unlike any other, to cap off a year unlike any other. Throughout this season and as we move into a new (and hopefully better) year, we wish you moments of peace amid the difficulties, connections with family and friends even if they can’t be in person, the warmth of memories from holidays past, and wonderful glimpses of the joy that still lives under the surface.”
  • “This is sure to be a holiday season of intensely mixed emotions as you miss your dad with tears, remember him with smiles, and mourn that your family can’t all be together. It’s a normal experience that every emotion is part of grief, especially in times like this. We carry you in our hearts throughout this difficult season and continue to be here for you as you move forward. We wish you peace, healing, and even moments of joy to sustain you.”
  • “The holidays can seem especially draining this year with all that is going on. It is doubly difficult because we all miss our usual means of support, the comfort of gathering with friends and family, and worship services that are part of our traditions. We are here for you through it all. We wish you endurance, strength, health, and as much happiness as these times can allow!”

These are only a few suggestions. You can adapt many more from my book A Friend Indeed: Help Those You Love When They Grieve or use these ideas to create your own. Regardless, don’t gloss over the challenges of this holiday season for your friends, family, and colleagues. Instead, let them know you understand them, support them, and will be there to help see them through.

Amy Florian is a liturgy and bereavement consultant who is an expert is death, loss, grief, aging, and transition. She teaches care minister and bereavement minister training, offers inspirational and educational evenings, teaches at diocesan and parish events across the country, and is the author of the multi-award-winning book A Friend Indeed: Help Those You Love When They Grieve.

By Amy Florian
© 2020 Corgenius, Inc.


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