Holiday time can be painful for children and teens after the loss of a loved one. We’re sharing tthe following tips to help your family through this delicate time:For TeensAs painful as it is, begin early to plan the necessary coping strategies. Consider scheduling a family meeting in which everyone can express their feelings and expectations. Be prepared for a whole range of emotions. For teenagers this can range from anger to being mean. For others, they may try to be “strong” and protect a grieving parent. Do not use them as a crutch – they need to grieve also. Questions to ask during the meeting:• What did you like the best about past Christmases?• What do we want to keep? What do we want to change or eliminate? Make joint decisions. Teens usually need extra support. Keep plans flexible. Working things through together can model effective life skills for
1. I need to be proactive and plan ahead: Studies show that those who experience the most difficulty with the holidays are those who have given little thought to the challenges they will encounter. During the planning, you may experience some emotional pain. As much as it hurts, it is helpful to you. When the holiday actually arrives, it is likely to be much less painful than you anticipated. 2. It is impossible to escape the holidays: Like aliens in a horror movie, it is everywhere and in every country. “Escaping” as a coping mechanism simply does not work – reminders of the holidays will always appear. We can mentally ignore the holidays by pretending that they don’t exist but it takes tremendous emotional energy to deny all of the input we see around us. 3. Holidays can’t be what they once were: Don’t try to keep everything as it was. If you
Almost everyone, when they are grieving, has one or more tasks or traditions that prove to be too difficult to handle or bear during this “festive” time. In most families changes can be made and/or other family members can help, but nothing can change until you identify what you need. So often it is a simple change. Once identified, it can help bring you some peace of mind. Say YES to what you truly value during the holidays and NO to whatever contributes only to clutter or distraction. Use the following reflection to write down and reflect on plans and feelings for the Holidays: What are my fears for the holidays? What are my values for the holidays? What does a peace-filled holiday season look like? List Holiday activity items under the the following categories: Things I have to do Things I like to do Things I would rather
From Harvard Health Publications and The Washington Post, 2008 Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, and events that would otherwise be joyful can be especially hard on people who are grieving. If the grief is fresh, holiday cheer can seem like an affront. Celebrations may underscore how alone people feel. Likewise, it’s hard to accept that others may not mark the days that you do — the first time you met your loved one, a birthday, or the anniversary of an illness or death. The following strategies may help people ease pain around holidays and other difficult times. Start a new tradition. People can remember their loved one on special occasions by placing a lighted candle on the table, leaving an empty chair, or saying a few words of remembrance. If the person who died always played a special role in festivities, another family member may be able to carry on the tradition.
You may hurt, but you will survive. The holidays may be the worst of your grief time. Eventually, you will heal, and your memories will persist without pain. Meanwhile, it’s OK not to have a good time. There may be no way you can make this holiday fun and there may be nothing you want to do. Allow that you may not enjoy the parties, reunions and events of the season. If you are hurting and unable or unwilling to have your attention on anything else, let yourself be. It is also OK to have a good time, even though you have experienced a loss. You do not have to deny pleasure to yourself or your family. While grieving, we often feel guilty about having fun, as if we should be miserable all twenty-four hours a day. That is not necessary. Often, we think it is how much we grieve