The holidays are ideally filled with family, laughter, love and togetherness, and a time for children to experience the joy of the season. However, children who have recently experienced loss may struggle during the holiday season, overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, anger and resentment over not having their loved one there.
Parents and caregivers can help children cope with their feelings and help them find ways to keep the memory of their loved one very much a part of the holidays.
One way you can help your child cope with their loss is to have them write it down — anything and everything. This is a great way for children of every age to get some of their emotions out. Younger children can draw pictures to express what they are feeling, while school age children and young adults can express themselves with words.
Consider a holiday gift of a journal for writing. You can encourage the child to:
- Write their favorite memories of their loved one,
- Create a story with their loved one as a character,
- Write a letter to those they’ve lost,
- Help them start a gratitude list of what they have in their life for which they are grateful.
This can help your child not only relieve some of the pent-up emotion but gives them their own personal tribute to their loved one.
Give Your Time
Oftentimes, what our children want is our time. Holiday schedules are busy with parties, outings and things to do, but giving your child the gift of undivided attention can bring much needed comfort.
Give them the extra hours a week, such as minutes in the car and hugs at bedtime that reassure them and make them feel loved and secure. You can also provide an extra half hour of cuddling time, one more story at night, a surprise early out from school, or take the long way home after practice.
Keepsake The Memories
For instance, a pink glass butterfly can be filled with a piece of yarn from a favorite afghan and given to a young lady in memory of her grandmother. A football can be filled with a few strands of hair for a teenage son that lost a friend or his first dog. Pendants can be engraved with a favorite photo and attached to a key ring or backpack.
The keepsakes are a tangible reminder of their loved one and offer a way to cherish a memory and hold it close.
Other ways you can help your child with their grief during the holidays:
- Patience. When our children are hurting, we are hurting. Unfortunately, grief takes its own time and it is different for everyone. Being patient with the process and with your child shows them when they need you, you will be there.
- Let them feel. Loss is emotional. Younger children may have an unnatural fear of losing a parent after suffering loss, while older children may experience resentment for having lost someone they love. Let them feel their emotions and remind them it’s okay and normal.
- Counseling. Children may benefit from counseling to help them cope with their grief. Trained professionals have ways of assisting children with age-appropriate ideas that and methods and may be able to help a child open up about what they are feeling.
There are many ways we can reach out to children that have suffered a loss and help them cope with their grief during the holidays. Try a few of these options to help your child move forward and enjoy the celebrations of the holiday season.
Jewelry Keepsakes has memorial jewelry and photo engraved keepsakes that can help your child remember a loved one that has passed.