In this post, learn several grief activities to help grieving kids have amazing holiday memories.
A wave of nausea rushed over me as the neighbors’ twinkling lights mocked me. Christmas would soon be here whether I wanted it to or not. How was I ever going to help my grieving kids have wonderful holiday memories when I was still grieving myself? What grief activities for kids could help us all get through the first holidays after mom’s death?
It’s overwhelming to figure out how to help your child cope with grief when you’re only hanging on by a thread. First and foremost, a great way to help grieving kids is to let them know it’s okay to be both happy and sad. Kids don’t stay sad all day long. They need breaks from their grief and it’s okay for them to laugh and play. Actually, truth be told, adults need breaks too. We just aren’t as good at taking them as kids are.
Besides giving reassurance that it’s okay to be happy and sad, how do you help a grieving child? Well here are some easy suggestions. If they’re too difficult for you due to your own grief, consider asking a family friend or other relative to lend a hand. Most likely, they’ve been looking for ways to help but didn’t know what to do.
7 grief activities for kids
- Do a memorial grief activity together. I absolutely loved the Remembering Ornament and how it helps kids (and parents) discuss the feelings they are experiencing.
- Include one of your loved one’s favorite dishes during your holiday celebration. If your kids are old enough, prepare it together and talk about why this was their favorite dish or memories associated with this particular food.
- If the thought of cooking is just too overwhelming, change traditions and go out to eat. Just be sure to check if the restaurant you plan to go to is open since several close on the holidays. I learned this the hard way one Easter after poor hubby tried to chase down food all over town only to find nothing was open, not even a burger joint. Mercifully he saved us from starvation with an odd assortment of deli food from a grocery store that hadn’t closed yet. We still laugh about that odd potluck Easter meal.
- Help someone. Volunteer or donate to a cause in memory of your loved one. Overcome with sadness we wouldn’t be able to shop for mom anymore, we picked someone around her age from the giving tree. Smiles replaced sadness, if only for a while, as we shopped for a gift to brighten the holidays for someone in mom’s honor.
- Start a new tradition. Light a candle. Leave an empty chair at the table. Say some words of remembrance.
- Express emotions through art. Encourage your kids to write a poem or song dedicated to the loved one. If your kids prefer coloring, download these free coloring pages that will not only entertain them for a while but also be therapeutic. Coloring has been shown to be beneficial for both adults and kids in dealing with stress so join them in a coloring session. You don’t even have to talk. Download free coloring pages and just spend some quiet time together.
- And the one I really loved was the Memory Stocking. Hang a special stocking in memory of your loved one. Maybe it’s the one they always hung. Perhaps it’s a new one you and the kids decorated in their memory. Maybe it’s store-bought. Whatever works for you and your family. Have everyone write down their favorite memory and then take time to sit as a family and read them. What a great way to keep their memory alive and have them still be part of the holidays.
And of course, a wonderful way to help grieving kids is to be sure and offer plenty of hugging opportunities. Studies have shown that hugs, even from an inanimate object like a memory bear,
- reduce the fear of death
- give an instant feeling of closeness and decrease the sense of loneliness
- stimulate oxytocin which helps promote feelings of contentment and reduces anxiety and stress. They lower cortisol to give better sleep quality.
- elevate the mood by releasing serotonin.
Kids are comforted by hugs and memory bears made from clothing of a loved one are sure to keep the memories of their departed loved one alive while giving them something to physically hold that will be a treasured keepsake.
Gifts for children who are grieving
Whether you’re looking for a gift for children who have lost a parent, sibling, or grandparent, a memory pillow, bear, quilt, or blanket can provide that comforting hug even when you aren’t around. Have a memory bear or pillow made from the clothing of the deceased and give it to your child this Christmas as a gift from either you or the departed loved one. They’ll have a cherished gift with meaningful memories. For more information check out 5 Bereavement Gift Ideas Guaranteed to Show You Care.
Remember these memory bears and pillows are custom handcrafted gifts that require mailing time both for you to mail the clothing and for the item to be shipped back to you after it is lovingly made. The deadline to order for Christmas delivery is late November. Order yours today to avoid missing out.
Additional resources for grieving kids
Check out Supporting Grieving Children During the Holidays. It gives age-appropriate grief responses, discusses reactions you should be concerned about, and provides suggestions for ways to help after the loss of a loved one.
Another great resource is Helping Children Cope with Grief During the Holidays, where you can find 6 tips to help, as well as some grief activities that encourage kids to talk about and express their pain while honoring their loved one’s memory.
And last but not least is Helping Grieving Children Through the Holidays which has a multitude of tips that parents or even other adults can use to help kids process their grief.