Holiday Grief with Children


BY: Karen Kincaid, MA, PCC-S

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

​It's coming up to the holiday season when we typically have fun celebrating with family and friends. We eat our favorite foods, stay up late and get all the gifts we've been hoping for. But what happens when the only thing you want, you can't have?

The loss of a loved one can change the mood of the holidays. It may be the first holiday without them or it may be the 10th. Regardless, it is not uncommon for you to feel a heightened sense of loss during these special times. It's normal to be a little more sad and reminiscent. 
Sometimes keeping things the same can be comforting. Some things you may want to do are: 
  • Continue routines and customs
  • Remember past holidays by bringing out old pictures and treasured items
  • Make your loved one's favorite food, desert, snacks
  • Display decorations they liked
  • Revisit favorite places
  • Get together with family and friends and tell old stories
Sometimes you might want to create new customs. It doesn't mean you don't honor your loved one or you're forgetting them. It just means you're doing something different. Here are some new things you may want to try while continuing to remember your loved one:
  • Reminisce about them when you are taking in a new or special outing
  • Make a new ornament or card with them in mind
  • Share a memory at mealtime
  • Hold a candlelight memorial service
  • Volunteer to assist others or make a donation to a group which helps the less fortunate. Make sure to include your loved one's name when you do.
  • Decorate your packages with photo collages
 Whatever you decide to keep or change, try to do it as a family.  If something in the season is too hard for you, let others know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. People can be stuck different places in their grief and it's important to acknowledge that. Remember it is okay to have fun. Physical activity helps us feel less anxious. Express your sadness in fun ways, like throwing water balloons at your snowman. If what you do this season doesn't work for you, you can always do something different next time. Allow yourself time to adjust and discover what's good for you.

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