The holidays can be very difficult for grieving children, especially during the first year of the loss of their loved one. Holidays are often celebrated with loved ones and include family traditions.
Because of this, holidays can be both a reminder of the loss of a loved one as well as reminders of special, pleasant memories shared with that person. This can be a painful time for children as they watch others enjoy the holidays, but they are experiencing a feeling of longing for their loved one.
Often, the anticipation for the holiday can be worse than the special day itself.
What can parents do to help? It is helpful to let grieving children know that they may feel some painful feelings during the holidays. This is normal. Encourage them to tell you about their feelings. With your child, plan activities and new traditions that can add creativity and fun to an otherwise hard situation. Here are some ideas:
- Draw pictures or make cards of favorite holiday memories with your loved one.
- Create a special ornament to hang on the tree or doorway.
- Write a holiday letter to your loved one and place it in a special place. The letter can be wrapped as a present under the tree or tied with a bow and placed next to their picture.
- Place a picture of your loved one at the dinner table with a candle so they are part of the holiday feast.
- Cook a favorite dish or dessert that your loved one enjoyed.
- Create a gratitude bowl. Family members can write their holiday memories of their loved ones on colorful slips of paper and read them aloud during a special time during the holidays.
These activities are powerful and healing. They allow the child to mourn while giving them permission to enjoy the holidays.
Pathways of Hope℠ Grief Counseling Centers
Ohio’s Hospice offers grief and bereavement support through our Pathways of Hope℠ Grief Counseling Centers, which provide a variety of services to the communities we serve. Support and education are provided by a team of counselors and social workers, all with significant experience and expertise in assisting grieving children, adolescents and adults.
If you and your child need additional grief and bereavement support, please contact our Pathways of Hope℠ Grief Counseling Centers. For more information about Pathways of Hope, click here.