Three days after Matthew Perry’s tragic death on October 28, his former Friends’ castmates, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc, released a joint statement expressing their sadness over the loss of the beloved actor. “We are all so utterly devastated,” they said in part, adding, “We were more than just cast mates. We are a family. There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve.”In the weeks that followed, the group attended his November 3 funeral and shared touching tributes with fans on their social media accounts.

Now a source exclusively tells In Touch they’re planning a special get-together over the holidays to privately celebrate Matt’s life. “It was always their plan to get together just the five of them, so they could feel comfortable about saying whatever’s on their minds,” says the source, noting that the intimate gathering will take place at Jen’s Bel-Air home. “They’ll reminisce about some of their favorite times with Matt and share stories and laugh and cry.”

Leaning on Each Other

The longtime pals haven’t had a chance to fully process their grief together yet. “The funeral was such a sad occasion, but it was mainly for Matt’s family, and they held back out of respect for them,” explains the source. The private gathering will be an emotional one. “There will undoubtedly be tears,” adds the source. Matt’s life was troubled. The late actor famously battled with drug and alcohol addiction for decades.

friends cast
(Photo by Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images)

In his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, he admitted to taking 55 Vicodin a day while filming the hit sitcom. After he was found dead at age 54 in the hot tub at his Pacific Palisades home, toxicology reports are still pending, but he was believed to have been sober in recent years. The source says Matt’s Friends costars have some regrets about not being able to help him with his struggles. “They wonder what more they could have done,” says the source. “But they don’t want to make their get-together a downer. This is about honoring their friend.”

As is usual for the crew, Jen will host. “She has an amazing house and the Zen feel of her place is exactly what the occasion calls for,” says the source. The Morning Show star is famous for her holiday parties, and wants to make this one a night to remember. “She’s planning a really nice evening with good food, some wine and lots of candles and soft music,” says the source. “She’ll break out the photo albums and candid videos and maybe even have a slide show.”

Lifelong Pals

Shooting Friends was more than a job for the cast, who have stayed close since 2004. “They went through so much together during the 10 years they did Friends — marriages, breakups, kids,” says the source. “They practically grew up together and their connection hasn’t changed with time.”

Their feelings were evident in mid-November, when they each posted messages honoring Matt on Instagram, more than one mentioning the cast as a family. “Having to say goodbye to our Matty has been an insane wave of emotions that I’ve never experienced before,” wrote Jen, 54. “He was such a part of our DNA. We were always the 6 of us. This was a chosen family that forever changed the course of who we were and what our path was going to be.” Lisa, 60, thanked the Fools Rush In star “for the best 10 years a person gets to have,” while Courteney, 59, said, “I am so grateful for every moment I had with you Matty and I miss you every day.”

friends cast
(Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

David, 57, posted a funny throwback of himself and Matt in character on Friends, writing, “you had heart. Which you were generous with, and shared with us, so we could create a family out of six strangers.” Matt, 56, was equally emotional, writing, “The times we had together are honestly among the favorite times of my life. It was an honor to share the stage with you and to call you my friend.”

Back on Set

The loss of Matt has only made that bond feel even more precious. “There’s been grief and sadness over one of the original six being gone,” says the source, “and it made them all want to be closer. Before, they’d let weeks or months go by without talking, and now they’re all in constant communication. They don’t ever want to let too much time slip away again.”

There’s even talk of a follow-up to their 2021 reunion — this time in the form of a Friends holiday special. “They had a blast during the reunion, it was like they were back in the ’90s,” says the source. Viewers were all in: A reported 5.3 million streamed Friends: The Reunion.

“They’re glad it was a hit but they loved the experience so much they would’ve done it again even if it had flopped. Some of them would like to do a Friends holiday special,” adds the source. “It would give them a lot of comfort — and be a nice way to keep Matthew’s memory alive.”

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