What to say at Christmas

It can be really difficult writing a Christmas card to someone who's grieving. Lot's of us worry about what the ‘right’ thing to say is. We've asked our volunteers, experts and bereaved clients for some tips.

Our recent research found that nearly a third of British people feared writing cards to grieving friends or relatives. 37% of people also said they would find it useful to have expert advice on what to write. So we’ve put together some advice for ‘what to say, when you don’t know what to say’.

Some tips/thought starters for writing Christmas Cards

  • Include the person’s name or mention them somewhere in the card, rather than trying to avoid it. It feels more personal for the person receiving the card, and lets them know their loved one isn’t forgotten.
  • You can say you know that this year will have been difficult, and that this Christmas might feel strange but that their loved one is still remembered.
  • There are some people who might not feel sad, maybe because they had a difficult or distant relationship with the person who died. So writing ‘I know this might feel different this year’ rather than ‘difficult’ might be better.
  • Let them know you are there for them if they need support or someone to speak to. Make sure to follow up on any offer of support, or suggest something specific you can do for them or together.
  • Try not to write a generic ‘Happy/Merry Christmas’ message and leave out any mention of their grief or the person they lost.
  • You don’t have to fill up a whole card, writing a few lines is OK.
  • Sometimes it can help to write it out on a separate bit of paper first.
  • Even if you don’t normally send cards, think about whether the person grieving would find comfort in a card or a call this year. It can be a really lovely thing to receive if you’re grieving and feeling alone or isolated.

Write what comes into your mind and heart fast, let that out and then go over it.

Sandra, Bereavement Volunteer

Acknowledging the person is important. Say the person died in January, by December, people tend to stop talking about them, so it may be nice to acknowledge their person or briefly mentioning "We’ll miss having [person's name] this Christmas”

Carole, Bereavement Volunteer

Some examples to get started

I know this Christmas will be very different – we’ll all be thinking of you

I’ll be thinking of you and the kids and remembering [name] this Christmas

We’ll really miss [name] this Christmas, so can’t imagine how much you will be missing them.

I’ve been remembering [name] and the time when ….

Every time I see a mince pie I remember your Dad and how much he loved them.

Would love to get together and hear some stories of [name] this Christmas and raise a glass to them.

Hope you’re OK, if you want a chat any time just send me a quick message and I’ll call.

Would you like to come over on Boxing Day? Or I could take the kids if you’d like some time on your own/to yourselves.



Help us support more people this Christmas

Buying cards from us will help support more bereaved people grieving this Christmas.