The holiday season can be especially difficult for individuals and families who are grieving the loss of a loved one. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some have said that not having their loved one with them during the holidays has intensified their pain, others have talked about the joy that has been experienced through continuing traditions that were special to the loved one that they have lost.
During a recent visit to Solace Tree in Reno (a program for grieving children, teens and families) children and teens along with their parents shared some guidelines that have made it easier to get through the holidays without their loved one. These are only suggestions and may or may not be appropriate for your distinguishing circumstance.
- Talk about your grief as a family and don’t be afraid to talk about
the person who has died. Share your thoughts, feelings and memories with
people you trust.
- Invite children in the family to help make choices or decisions about
what to do or not to do during the upcoming holidays.
- Be prepared for all types of reactions. Each individual grieves at
their own pace.
- Children and adolescents need time to grieve. Allow them space either
alone or with support.
- Keep the spirit alive for young children. It will play a role in
their future beliefs about the holiday season.
- Do things that are simple such as only decorating one room instead of
the whole house.
- Shop online or through catalogs for gifts.
- Be honest with your feelings. Try keeping a journal. Write a letter
to your loved one.
- If faith is important to you then find comfort in your community.
- Take care of yourself during this time. Be patient, gentle and kind
with yourself and your children.
The holidays can be a transitional period for the family that has experienced the loss of a loved one. It is a significant time of the year that holds many memories of times gone by. These times will always be meaningful and so will the holidays, although they will be different now. Try to live each moment of life in the present, it is the only existence we all share. Make these holidays your special times.
Emilio Parga, M.A.
A Program for Grieving Children, Teens and Families