Holiday Kindness That Feels Like a Hug

The season of Advent has already begun. Christmas is coming.

It’s the season of giving.

Do you struggle to think of just the right gift for your grieving friend? I do. You, too?

Gift giving has always been a challenge for me, regardless of the occasion or person. I’m jealous of others who select the perfect gift with ease.

As I factor in the reality that my gift is for someone grieving the loss of their loved one, my stress ramps up.

What could I possibly give them that would be useful and meaningful?

I want to be sensitive to a griever’s loss, but it’s easy to second guess myself.


Last Christmas, she did it again. I don’t know how she does it.

With unusual skill, my daughter Chantel, has a knack for sifting through all the gift possibilities and finding a meaningful one. Every time I look at her gift, it feels like I’m receiving another hug.

Chantel gave her dad and I, a special gift that took our breath away. It was both thoughtful and personal while acknowledging the one who we miss. Obviously, Chantel didn’t inherit this beautiful skill from me.

Tears welled up in our eyes and a smile touched our lips as we ripped off the pretty wrapping and let the familiar words on the framed sign sink in.

Reproduced on the sign were words that Jordan, Chantel’s brother, had written in a card to us, his parents, only days before he died.

In the style of Jordan’s unique handwriting, the sign has wooden letters with a message that evokes an emotional response every time I read it.

The sign reads, “Both of you have been amazing parents over the past 23 years and I wouldn’t trade you guys for anything. Love, Jordan.”

Jordan had a way of teasing while affirming kindly. Oh, how I miss my boy!

And I ache the fact that Chantel is missing her brother. Amid her own grief, she is keenly aware of how to help carry our sorrow in meaningful ways.


It feels like Jordan left us way, way too soon. At 23 years of age, his adult life had barely started. But what a precious gift he leaves behind. Words of love.

Jordan didn’t leave us wondering if we were important to him. We knew. A box full of “Jordan cards” from over the years is proof. We cherish each one.

Although Jordan lives in Heaven, his cards constantly remind me that words are important.

Words of love, empathy, and compassion written on a card are a precious gift appropriate anytime.


When I’m uncertain what to give a grieving friend, I know a card, email or text expressing love and compassion is a good place to start.

You and I are heading into the Christmas shopping season. Here’s some ideas meant to be helpful by providing gift giving strategies.

As you well know, the grief journey can feel isolating for those navigating a devastating loss. Fear and uncertainty grip their heart as the unknown looms ahead. Grief is exhausting and confusing as losing a loved one turns everything upside down. No one should have to walk through their grief alone.

Regardless of the heartache your friend is facing this Christmas, the gift they need most is Jesus, our One and only Hope.

No matter how deep the sorrow that we and others carry, the birth of Jesus brought hope and healing for the world. With this truth, we can live in hope and purpose even as we grieve.

“We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people.”
1 Timothy 4:10 CSB

Hope isn’t just for ourselves, but to be shared.

You can give a gift with an eternal impact this Christmas.

Today, I’m inviting you to consider supporting CornerBend Ministries for the first time. A growing number of people and communities rely on this grief ministry for hope and encouragement. Financial gifts help us have an even greater reach.

Here’s where you can GIVE ( . Donations are tax receipted by the Great Commission Foundation.

If this resonates with you, please take action before you lose the idea under other competing thoughts. Even good ideas can quickly disappear from short-term memory.

Don’t worry. It happens to me, too. While it is in your heart to do so, take a moment to donate.


Let’s be the reason a grieving soul believes that God cares for them.

Give the gift of a grief book that offers hope for the long and difficult grief journey. It’s a tangible expression of compassion.

Six months ago, Doug experienced the devastating loss of his beautiful 55-year-old wife. A thoughtful friend gave Doug a copy of “The Little Black Funeral Dress.” Doug’s response to the gift reveals his appreciation and the impact.

“Shirley’s book was such an encouraging read for me. It is a vulnerable yet comfortable read, punctuated with constructive ways to manage the grief journey. It inspired me to recycle my pain as well.”

You can provide someone else the chance to experience all the encouragement and hope this little book offers.

Together, let’s take every opportunity to spread hope to those who are hurting. Every act of kindness and every loving gift will feel like a hug.

Picture of Shirley Thiessen

Shirley Thiessen

Author and speaker helping you bring hope to broken, grieving hearts.