Grief in the Holidays – Children and Teens

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 Teens
As 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 your teens.

For Children
Creating special activities that children can participate in can be meaningful and comforting:
“We planted a tree in the backyard.”
“We had the children take cookies to the hospital workers where their father died.”
“We donated money to a charity as a memorial.”
“We had the children write a note or draw a picture and then we placed it at the gravesite.”

Again, a family meeting in which everyone can express their feelings and expectations is a good start. Talk about past holidays.  Children need extra support – keep plans flexible. Working things through together as a family will result in a stronger and more stable foundation for your children.

A beautiful poem to share:

Circle of Healing
By Luann

Friends holding hands,
listening with our hearts
Behold the power of this energy
The inner spirits unite and float
Upward to form a shelter
As this force slowly descends,
We are surrounded by a loving embrace
And bathed in healing light.
Free our spirits to live in joy
With memories of our loved ones.
Thank you for their lives
For our lives
Bless us one and all!

Grief is a natural part of life when someone we love dies. Finding your way through the changes and often painful emotions that arise during the days, weeks and months that follow a death can be difficult. You don’t have to do it alone. Hospice of Santa Cruz County has helped thousands of people through their grief journey. If you’d like information on our services available to help through our Grief Support Program, please call (831) 430-3000 or visit our website at www.hospicesantacruz.org/patients-family-community/grief-support-services.