We often associate firsts with our children growing up such as first smile, first time sitting up, first words, those anticipated first steps, first day of school, but when you have lost a loved one, you associate firsts differently.  

Getting through the first holidays, birthdays, anniversary, etc.

The first year after my husband passed away, I was faced with lots of firsts, one right after the other. I remember how different Thanksgiving was without his physical presence.

My family always joins hands to pray before a meal.  That Thanksgiving was no different except for the painful reminder my husband was not there to join us in prayer. I remember after we prayed, tears were streaming down my face. My sweet brother and sister just came over to me and wrapped their arms around me. No words. Just the embrace of support and love.  

That meant more to me than any words.

I know we struggle as to what to say to someone that has lost a loved one.  In the past, I did not know what to say, so often times I would do nothing at all.  Let me just say from someone that has lost a loved one, words are great, but a hug is the best medicine.  I posted this less than a year ago after the loss of a dear friend. I wanted to post part of it again because I feel it can be helpful to those of us that do not know what to say or do to the ones that are still here after they have lost a loved one.

What you can do for someone who has lost a loved one:

  • Pray for them.
  • Sending little thoughts and messages long term can really mean a lot.  Just a short note, card, text, message, etc. may be just what they need at the very moment.  
  • Give them some space.  Sometimes we need to be surrounded by people, and other times we just need to be alone.  
  • Realize we are going through the unimaginable, and may not make sense at times.  We may forget things, not remember something important and may do things that don’t make sense.  Just be patient and understand we are just as frustrated with this forgetfulness as you are.
  • We will be overwhelmed quite a bit at times, and just offering to do simple things can help take the edge off.  
  • Realize that grieving is a personal journey.  There are no exact steps to this journey, and it can be very different for each family member.  Know that we are trying to get back to normal whatever that is. We are just trying to find out where we fit into this new way of life we have been forced into.
  • We may cry all the time, or we may not cry at all.  Grieving is like waves. It constantly comes in and out, but every once in awhile you get hit with a really big wave and nearly topple over.   Just know we are trying to get back up when those big waves hit. Your prayers really help.
  • I said this before, prayer is the most powerful thing you can do for someone else, so pray without ceasing.

All of these still ring very true.  Grieving is not something we plan or want to go through, but have to in order to survive.  


Val Bryant is a mom, grandmother, sister, aunt, daughter and a widow.  She says, “we often associate joy with light, but did you know there can be joy in darkness? Rewards can be found in difficult times as well when we completely lean on God”.