10 Ways to Show Consideration for a Widow in Your Life this Christmas.


As you prepare to go to family gatherings with a widow in your life this Christmas season, you may feel anxious, sad, or socially awkward because you don’t know what to say to her. Relating to her as just her alone may feel really strange to you because you are used to relating to her in her identity as a wife, or you may have mostly related to she and her husband as a dynamic duo with you and your husband. You may have seen her life shatter and feel guilty because yours didn’t. You likely are afraid you will say the wrong thing or “make her sad.”

Remember that she likely feels just a nervous and out of place at whatever event you are both attending as you do. She is probably just as nervous about having awkward or potentially triggering conversations with others as you all are about talking with her. But please, don’t let that stop you from reaching out. She needs your sincere caring, your unconditional love and your listening so deeply this Christmas season and in the coming year ahead.

Here are a few suggestions to help you show consideration and navigate conversations with the widow in your life this Christmas:

1) Be yourself…..but be the most considerate version of yourself.

She doesn’t want you to feel like you have to walk on the egg shells around her, but at the same time, she does want you to consider how she must be feeling. If you are having a hard time in your personal life, you don’t have to hide that from her because you think what she is dealing with is so much worse.

Be careful of common slang that could be triggering. Example: I once asked a fellow Mom how her week was and she responded “well nobody died.” So be careful.

Be yourself by try not to put your foot in your mouth.

2) If you have ideas to pay honor to or memorialize or reflect on her husband at the event or family gathering, contact her ahead of time to ask her directly what she thinks.

Most widows don’t want to be surprised by these types of things and would like to be included in preparing the gesture of remembrance.

3) If you would like to share with her a memory of him, don’t be afraid to ask her if this is okay.

You may make her day with your thoughtfulness and hearing the memory may bring the comfort she needs to get through the day. If she says no, that is okay too. She won’t be upset with you for asking. She will appreciate that you took the time to ask.

4) If there have been recent marriages, engagements or milestone anniversaries, Certainly, celebrate, but speak of these things compassionately.

She is very happy for you, but try not to allow such topics to be the central focus of all the conversation. And likewise, try not to let the conversation topic fixate on death. People often don’t dare speak of the death of her husband, but sometimes loved ones seem to enjoy reflecting on all the people they have known in town or that they went to school with who died this year. Try not to go there.

5) Don’t force traditions to stay the same unless she requests this. It may do more harm than good.

Yet again, this is an area to contact her before the gathering to discuss. Sometimes trying to do things exactly the same way as before her husband died just seems to magnify his absence and put a magnifying glass on the pain. The obvious person whom is missing becomes the consuming focus when something he always did with the group continues without him in it. On the flip side, there are times when the familiarly and the loyalty to the traditions is comforting. So talk to her to figure this out.

6) Be aware of possible triggers.

Every person has different triggers in grief. And each day a trigger may have a different strength and a different affect on her. Familiar foods, familiar fragrances of the season, certain songs, certain festive movies could be a few. Talk to her ahead about anything that might be a trigger that should be changed or left out this year.

Note: Giving her a memorial gift such as a nice canvas photo or something very specific to her husband and his death might be best given in private, and better yet give this before she leaves or let her know the nature of the gift and let her open it privately when she feels ready. She may not be ready emotionally to see such a gift in front of the group.

7) Try not to overemphasize the romanticism of the holidays.

Your widowed loved one has already had her fill just from listening to the department store background music. If you have hung mistletoe, don’t make a big fuss over who will be kissed beneath it. Just the idea of never being able to smooch her husband beneath it ever again brings a great deal of pain to her broken heart, so don’t rub salt in her wounds.

8) Don’t be afraid to ask her what kind of gifts she would like this year.

Since so much has changed in her life, the things you used to assume she would have liked might not work anymore. She may be pursuing other new hobbies and interests that you don’t know about yet. Don’t assume you know her practical needs either.

9) Never underestimate the power of your encouraging words.

Your widowed loved likely needs your encouragement more than any other gift you could give her. She has been navigating life alone, and daily battling her grief. It has taken her immense strength to survive and bravely walk forward into an unknown new life she didn’t choose. A handwritten sincere note of encouragement jotted into a Christmas card and given to her will likely be something she holds on to and peeks at when she is feeling discouraged in the days ahead. She may feel like she is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Sometimes all she needs is to feel seen and believed in.

10) If she is a hugger, then make sure she is hugged.

Widows that enjoy hugs from loved ones have likely gone days or weeks without loving, appropriate touch, which is a basic human, God given need for human connection that so many of us take for granted. If you don’t know what to say, sometimes a sincere hug and an “I love you” or “I am so glad you are here” speak volumes.

In Hope & Prayers,

From This Widow Mama


Dorothy lost her beloved husband Oct 2021 to a very unexpected bacterial pneumonia that quickly became septic shock. Her other half and best friend was born with a serious congenital heart defect. Because of that, she had always feared the possibility of being a widow, but she thought it more likely to be due to his heart, and more likely when her husband was in his 50s after the children were grown. Instead, he graduated to heaven just one week before turning 34. Dorothy was 36 with young sons ages 5 and 16 months who adored their Daddy. In less than 48 hours, the life Dorothy and her beloved husband so carefully built together shattered. They were blessed to share just over 8 wonderful, joyous and fun years of marriage. While her heart is so thankful to God for having had their journey together, she has struggled since his death with feeling hurt and let down by God. She has felt so devastated that their love story was short and ended so abruptly. Join her as she shares her unfolding journey of grasping to faith in Christ as she journeys through love, loss, single parenthood, honoring her husband's legacy and guiding her sons through their grief and life without Daddy.