By: Maralee McKee, The Etiquette School of America
Should you send a Christmas card to someone suffering a loss this year?
Absolutely! In fact, sending a Christmas card is a great way to help lift the spirit of someone who has suffered any type of loss this year. Your card lets the person know you haven’t forgotten which shows you care about them and their loss.
How to pick the best card for someone who suffered a loss this year
While sending a Christmas or New Year card is fantastic, you probably don’t want to send a card from the boxed set you’re sending to others on your list. Wishing the person who has suffered a loss “A Very Merry Christmas” or “The Happiest New Year Ever” makes light of their major loss or setback. Here we’re talking about things like a life-altering illness, the death of a spouse, child, or any close family member, an unwanted divorce, the loss of their job, or their home, etc.
Handpick the card you’ll send. And make sure to add a personal note letting the person know you realize this is a difficult Holiday Season for them and that you’re thinking of and praying for them.
If there has been a death in someone’s family should you mention it in the Christmas card you send to them?
If you’re sending a card to someone who has suffered the death of a family member this year, you should mention it in the note you write at the bottom of your holiday card. And while you might be hesitant to bring up such an immense loss in a card that’s meant to bring the recipient joy, not mentioning it is overlooking their grief.
If someone has passed away, you could write something like “…I know the loss of John makes this a difficult Christmas to celebrate. I miss him so much! Please know that I’m remembering both of you. And I’m thinking (or praying) for you as you navigate this first holiday season without him.”
In the above example, you’ve accomplished three things that are important to someone suffering the loss of a loved one:
- You acknowledged that the recipient is grieving.
- You’ve remembered their loved one. No one is gone until they are forgotten. By mentioning their loved one by name, you help keep the person alive in spirit.
- You let the person know you’re thinking (or praying) for them.
Grace note: If the person (or family) who suffered the loss lives nearby, and you’re able, invite them to join you in a low-key outing that will focus on friendship more than the holiday.
Should you mention losses other than deaths in the Christmas card you send to someone?
Outside of mentioning the death of a close family member, the etiquette of mentioning othering losses in a Christmas card isn’t so cut and dry. You need to use your best discretion. Say for instance that someone lost their job this year, you might not want to mention it, but then again, depending on the person, you could. What you might want to do instead is to mention in general terms that it’s been a difficult year and that they are always in your thoughts (or prayers).
If you would like to help in any way, perhaps babysitting while they send out cover letters and resumes or attend interviews, offer to do so in your note. Also, if you can get together either virtually or in-person do so because your company will be a welcome distraction for the person!
Please note: This is a Quick Tip post. For more about signing and sending cards, check out this post. It’s your complete guide to Christmas Card Manners.
Always all my best,