A Child's View: Memories and the Holidays

BY: Susan Lakin, LISW-S

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

The holiday season has begun. You're looking forward to time off from school and doing some of your favorite winter activities. But this year life is different: your special person has died and isn't here with you. Often this season includes exchanging gifts. You may be hoping for a specific gift or thinking about what to give a family member. You may have already wrapped a gift for your special person who is no longer here to open it.

You might try writing a letter to the person who died. It can be made of words and pictures. Thank them for the times you spent together. Rather than a video game or a new bike, think about hugs when you were feeling sad, sharing a snack and talking, time spent playing your favorite game, or cuddling with you on the couch. Maybe your person taught you how to be a brother or sister, how to act during church, how to avoid bullies at school, or how to make chocolate chip cookies.

Unlike a game or new clothes, you don't outgrow these gifts: they will be with you forever. Sometimes thinking about them will make you sad. That's OK, and that sadness may seem to last for a long time. Remembering all that your person gave you is a way to honor your loved one and keep them in your life. It may be hard to see other family members missing your person too. Sharing your lists of "gifts" with them may help everyone feel closer and encourage them to think about the gifts they have received.

Put your letter in an envelope in a special place, in a book you read together or in a drawer with your other "treasures." If you are having a hard day, look at the letter. Perhaps write more "thank yous." Remember how lucky you were to have the person in your life, even for much too short a time.

You will have times during this season when you are happy and enjoying activities. That does not mean you have forgotten your special person. It's normal and OK to feel happy and then sad for some time to come. We wish you a new year filled with good memories and peace. If you need us, we are here to help. 

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