How to Prepare Grieving Children for the Holidays

Holidays can be difficult for adults as well as children. The holiday season is especially hard because it can go on for weeks. There are preparations, celebrations (at school) and family traditions. Children can be especially sensitive to changes during the holidays. So what should you do? Following the loss of a loved one there are things that you and your family can do to make this time of the year easier for you and your child.

Weeks before the holidays involve your children in a family discussion about how the holidays will be different without their loved one. Ask “what things should we keep the same?” “What new things should we do?” Talking about it gives a child a sense of control.

Keep some traditions but also try to incorporate new traditions. Include your loved one in your holiday celebration by displaying a photo, donating a gift to charity or hanging a special ornament.

It is important to lean on family and friends for support.Identify those Individuals who have at one time or another said: “What can I do?” Now it is time to accept their offer and tell them how they can be helpful. The holidays are a time of giving and caring, and those that have extended support to you will be pleased that you asked.

Some parents/guardians believe they are protecting their children by not talking about their loss. It is usually better for parents/guardians to discuss the loss openly because it allows children to have a voice and be heard. One of the comments I hear most often from children is that they are grateful when someone talks to them about their loss. Doing so allows the child an opportunity to ask questions and share how they feel. Their feelings are ‘normalized’ when they can share them with someone they feel safe with, which lets children know they are not alone in coping with the loss.


(For more information and help in coping with holiday grief call the Hospice of CNY Grief Center at 315-634-1100.)