A Child's View: 10 Ideas to Manage Holiday Grief


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan, MA, MT-BC, CHPCA

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

Children who are grieving 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 too much the same, EXCEPT that their special person is missing. Children may feel jealous of others who haven't experienced the death of a loved one. 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 their enjoyment.

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

  1. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and express them to someone they trust. 
  2. Remind them to ask for comfort and hugs when they need it.
  3. Suggest they write down how they feel, or draw pictures of their feelings, thoughts and memories. This can be in a journal or in a 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 loved one for a while. 
  5. Encourage outside physical activity. If it snows, 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. Revisit favorite places.
  10. Volunteer or make a charitable donation in your loved one's honor/ 

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