Festive celebrations and traditions surrounding the upcoming holiday season can be all that more emotional and overwhelming to bereaved parents. The pain, grief, and sadness they are feeling over the death of their child can be amplified by the holidays, no matter how long or how recent their loss has been.

Be understanding. Be gentle. Be the grace they need as they navigate the upcoming holidays. Be their safe place and their comfort. Let them be sad and be there to comfort them. Let them cry and be their shoulder to cry on if they want. Speak their child’s name and smile when they speak their child’s name. Welcome them with open hearts and arms when they show up to celebrations. Trust me, it takes courage to be in festive social celebrations after the death of their child. Be understanding if they need to leave early or just need to stay home this year.

Do not feel obligated to “say the right thing”. Words cannot take away their sadness and pain. It may not seem adequate but a simple “I’m sorry” is good. Sometimes a gentle hug and smile does the trick. Sitting next to them and holding the tissue box for them if they are crying speaks silent volumes.