As the holidays are closing in upon us, many families gather to celebrate a time to be with each other. For those who are coping with grief, the holidays can be a challenging time of the year. This is especially the case for children who are experiencing grief or have recently experienced grief due to the loss of a loved one or a major transition in their life.
At Grief Recovery Center, our Houston counselor see clients of all ages. However, helping kids cope with grief is sometimes one of the more challenging endeavors we take on. Sometimes, the holidays elicit certain emotions and memories that may be harder for the child to overcome and express their feelings to cope with their grief.
We recommend that a family seek the professional assistance of experts in the area of grief to help its members grow beyond their loss. The following are some useful strategies and tips for a parent or a close family friend to help children grief through the holidays.
1. Make it light
At the Grief Recovery Center, our experts recommend that you want to keep it light when it comes to the grieving process for kids. The emotional toll on them is very unforgiving, and they will need breaks in their grieving. The loss of a loved one may cause distress and chaos that they may not yet know how to deal with, as such, our experts at the Grief Recovery Center will always focus on utilizing strategies to help kids be kids and let them have fun, even during times of grief.
2. Open Conversations
Talking it through with children that are in the grieving process during the holidays may be more difficult as they may not want to open up. Share your own emotions and feelings with them to encourage them to share their own specific memories of the one they lost. Allow open conversations, as our Grief Recovery Center will recommend, to remember your loved one during the holidays. Be authentic in your conversations. That way, kids can open up more about how they may be struggling or thriving in their grieving process.
3. Physical Contact
When appropriate, hugs, kisses, touching of the head, or shoulders may be a comforting way to help a child grief. Our Grief Recovery Center experts propose that you ask for their permission, and respect their wishes if they do not wish to have any physical contact as well.
4. Be Creative Together
Being creative is one solid way for children to cope with their grief. Be it a journal, drawing, or dancing; allow children to release their creative outlets to grief in their own special way. Our Grief Recovery Center counselors suggest that you can create Christmas cards, or sing Christmas carols together with your children in memory of the loss of your loved one. These opportunities to unite with your kids are vital in helping them be okay to grieve openly.
The holidays are often about decorating together, watching movies, or anything that you do together as a family. As such, there are often keepsakes that can help you remember good memories of the loved one your child have lost. Let them keep mementos or other keepsakes in memory of the good times they have had. The holidays can elicit painful reminders of our children’s loss, but keepsakes allow them to remember them from the good moments.
6. Create New Traditions
Allow for new rituals and traditions to flourish within your home during the holidays. Our therapists at the Grief Recovery Center explains that new rituals can encourage our children to make new memories in honor of the one they lost without disrespecting old family traditions. Ask your kids for suggestions to come up with new ways to celebrate the holidays, it will give them the autonomy to cope with their grief.
Be open to listening without answering. According to our counselors at the Grief Recovery Center, this task may sometimes sound easier than it actually is. When we allow our children to talk to us about their grief without our interruption or suggestions, it can be a very effective way for your children to grieve in a healthy way.
8. Be Flexible
Another very vital way to help our children grief through the holidays is to be flexible with yours and your children’s expectations about the holidays. While one aspect of the holidays may be challenging for a child while they grief, our Grief Recovery Center’s experts advise you to be patient with the process. Allow change and flexibility to come into your life during the grieving process, it will make the holidays seem easier to get through.
It can be very easy to fall into the traps of becoming judgemental and expecting what a grieving process should look like. This can be especially the case when children are often non-communicative about their emotions and how they feel when they are grieving through the loss of a loved one. Our Grief Recovery Center’s counselors propose that you allow any and all feelings without putting a stamp on how anyone in your family should grieve. Validate your children’s feelings in a non-judgemental way by helping them explore the way they feel with questions and empathy.
Children thrive on routines. However, when there is a loss in the family, that routine can become disrupted, and your children’s world may turn into chaos as a result. During the holidays, a routine is especially essential to uphold as celebration schedules can change or be eliminated completely due to a loss. Our experts at the Grief Recovery Center suggests that you maintain a schedule that you’ve had to give your children the stability and structure they need while they are trying to overcome the grief of their loss.
There may be days you may not feel like you want to be composed, it is okay to show your emotions, but stick to a routine so that your child can know what they can expect.
What else can you do?
Ultimately, your goal is to provide a safe place for a child to grief in their own way. You want to bring them comfort and a sense of stability in midst of a loss that may be creating confusion and distress. Allow your kids to find closure in any way, shape, or form that best suits them. If you have several kids, you can expect that every child will grieve in their own special way. Allow that without restraints, expectations, or a timeline. If you are having trouble in communicating with your children during times of grief, you can contact us at the Grief Recovery Center for more info today.