Helping Grieving Children Deal with the Holidays
Children are often referred to as the “forgotten mourners.” They have learned not to upset their parents and so they withdraw and don’t ask any questions. They just hope things will turn out fine and that they will have a good Christmas.
One of the difficulties children have in dealing with their grief is that they are often discouraged from expressing grief. Since the grief of a child increases the pain adults are feeling, adults often avoid talking with children about their feelings. They don’t always understand a child’s grief.
Include children in any discussion about the holidays. It is a time of great insecurity for them and they need the security and support of the family. Ask the children what they would like to have happen on Christmas Day. Ask them what they want and what they don’t want. It is best to know ahead of time what is going to happen rather than approach the day without any plans.
Get the children’s ideas about an appropriate gift or donation in memory of a loved one. They may also like the idea of putting a new decoration on the tree in memory of the one who has died. Let them choose a special memory candle to burn.
Give the children a break from the family. If they want to spend part of their Christmas holidays with their friends, let them.