The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
Children and Grief During the Holidays
Tis the Season for holiday music, twinkling lights, and gift shopping, all during what is deemed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”. However, in the lives of grieving children and families, the holiday season can be the most challenging time of the year. It is difficult to escape the seasonal cues indicating the holidays are upon us, but what’s more difficult is for a child who has experienced the death of a loved one to embrace the spirit of the season with the feelings of sadness and uncertainty of how to move forward without their loved one’s presence.
Holidays are geared around family time and traditions. Though their days should be merry and bright, grieving children struggle to see the light of the season because of the darkness that has come upon them as a result of the death of their loved one. Talking with children about family traditions that they would like to continue as well as new ones they would like to begin, and allowing the child’s input and involvement, will create a sense of empowerment over their grief. For some, especially in the first year after the death, families may decide that not experiencing the holidays is what is needed as they process the changes in their lives.
Grieving children want to be heard but often can’t find their voice of expression. Art projects and familiar play activities are comforting ways in which a child can express their grief. Here are some suggestions that can be adapted for kids of all ages:
• decorate a paper bag with memories or favorite things about your loved one, anchor the bag with sand and place a battery-operated candle inside
• collect family holiday photos and create a collage or wreath that can be displayed in the home
• create a special ornament in memory of your loved one to adorn the tree
• have family members join together and share holiday stories about their loved one
The one gift that grieving children and families can be given during the holiday season is an opportunity to gradually find peace and balance in a world that feels upside down. As their hope is renewed, grieving children will be able to find joy in the holidays again.
For information about our Center for Grieving Children, please call 407-599-0909 or visit our website.
A special message from Rosie Wilder,
Wishes for Kids Program Director
One of the things we are thankful for during the holidays is having our health. Every day I meet children whose wish is to be able to walk, talk, play, and be just like other kids. Some spend their days in the hospital receiving tests or treatments. Some become depressed or angry because they want to be riding their bikes, playing football, or go to school. Being sick is not fun.
To help combat the many challenges children with shortened life expectancies face, New Hope’s Wishes for Kids program offers one very special wish. Through their wish, children are encouraged to not give up and are given time with their families making memories to last forever.
Thank you for making wishes happen!