Coping with grief during the holidays can be challenging for every member of the family. Helping our children and grandchildren process feelings of grief and loss is an important part of the healing process. We hope that these 9 Tips for Helping Your Child Grieve at the Holidays can be a helpful guide for you and your family during what can be a bittersweet season for many.
Talk to your child about their loved one. Be specific with your loved one’s favorite holiday activities. Keep the communication lines open by spending one on one time with the child who is grieving.
Children need to take breaks from their grief.
Let them laugh and joke around. Play together and show you can take a break from grief, too.
Let them dance, listen to music, paint, draw, and construct their world by processing what they are feeling.
Give your child a small memento that belonged to the deceased that he/she can have, such as a keychain, photo, locket, a picture. Let the child choose the item, if possible.
If possible, allow children to help make decisions about holiday plans. The children may feel they have more control of the situation when they can help make decisions. Change is okay.
Don’t feel like you have to be composed continuously. It is okay for the children to see your tears and feel your pain. Ask for a hug on your down days. Sit together and talk about memories.
Let children help plan the meal and cook in memory of their loved one. Use this as a way to talk about the deceased. Much conversation and community occurs in the kitchen.
Don’t toss away the whole season. Find some small space to decorate, maybe buy a new tree or decoration, and let the children help plan. It will provide meaning and allow the discussion of memories.
Keep some of the old traditions but create new ones. Children like rituals, predictability and things that they can look forward to. It’s important to recognize and allow the formation of new ones.
At Good Shepherd Hospice our commitment to patient and family care comes first. That is one of the reasons we offer spiritual care and counseling services for our patients and their families throughout the entire time patients are on service with us and bereavement support for 13 months following the passing of our patient. We are committed to providing the exceptional hospice experience because serving people with compassion and dignity is our mission.
This information was adapted from “Supporting Grieving Children During the Holidays.” Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services , LiAnn Arnson, LMSW, https://www.pinerest.org/supporting-grieving-children-during-holidays-blog/.