Helping Grieving Children Survive the Holidays

BY: Diane Snyder Cowan

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss
Grieving children experience conflicting emotions during the holiday season. Excitement about presents and parties is often coupled with the sadness of knowing they cannot share them with their deceased loved one.

Family traditions may have changed since the death. It may seem like nothing is the same as it used to be or everything is the same, except that their special person is missing. Children may feel jealous of others who haven’t had someone die. They may feel mad and not even know why. Sometimes when grieving children are feeling happy and having fun, they suddenly remember their deceased loved one and then feel guilty or ashamed for having fun.

Here’s are 10 ideas to help children manage grief during the holidays:

1. Talk about and express feelings to someone they trust.

2. Ask for comfort and hugs when they need it.

3. Write down or draw feelings, thoughts and memories. This can be in a journal or letter to the person who died.

4. Remember children grieve in spurts. Tell your child that it’s okay to have fun when grieving. It’s even okay not to think about their deceased love one for a while.

5. If it snows, encourage outside physical activity. Make snowballs and snowmen.

6. Light a candle and surround it with photos.

7. Make a holiday card, decoration or ornament in honor of your loved one.

8. Bake or cook favorite foods that you previously enjoyed as a family.

9. Re-visit favorite places.

10. Volunteer or make a charitable donation in your loved one’s honor.

The holidays are different this year. Work together as a family to plan ahead and meet each person’s needs and wants. It’s good to laugh and love and cry and remember.

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