Christmas will be here before we know it, and for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, the dread may have already started. Despite the pretty twinkly lights, the yummy cookies, and the cheery holiday carols, Christmastime can be incredibly stressful and depressing for many.
For some families, the holidays are overshadowed by grief after the loss of a loved one. So how do you help make wonderful holiday memories for grieving kids when you’re still grieving yourself?
First and foremost, talk to your kids and 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.
6 ideas to help make great holiday memories for grieving kids
- 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.
- 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 Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
- Help someone. Volunteer or donate to a cause in memory of your loved one.
- Start a new tradition. Light a candle. Leave an empty chair at the table. Say some words of remembrance.
- 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.
Offer plenty of hugging opportunities, since a person who’s hugged will feel the love around them.
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.
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.
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 has a multitude of tips that parents or even other adults can use to help kids process their grief.