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Supporting a grieving child at Christmas

Christmas and the New Year, including the lead up to it, can be an incredibly difficult time for grieving children and their families. It is natural that you may find Christmas, a time which traditionally brings families together, particularly hard.

Here are some ideas that may help you and your children to cope with grief and remember the person who has died at Christmas. These are just suggestions, you must do what you feel is right for your family. And be kind to yourself, there is no right or wrong way to remember someone who has died.

Talk to your children, as a family, about Christmas and your Christmas plans. Find out what they would like to do and involve them in the choices and decisions. You may want to continue old traditions, or you may want to consider some new ones. Try to include everyone's wishes where practical and manageable, but try not to take on too much.

Take time to remember the person who has died. You could:

  • Light an advent candle to remember them.
  • Write a special message on a piece of paper, roll it up and tie it with ribbon, and then place your ‘hidden’ message on the tree; you could write it on a gift tag if you don’t want the message hidden.
  • Create a special decoration in memory of the person; you could, for example, use a clear plastic bauble and fill it with things that remind you of the person who has died, a photo, things in their favourite colour, or mementos that you collected together.
  • Share memories of the person who has died by writing them on strips of paper chain to create a paper chain of memories.
  • Listen to a favourite festive song or eat their favourite food during the festive season.

Share how you are feeling with those closest to you, and encourage your children to do the same - don’t hide your grief.  Take time out if you need it. Sharing your grief can make it less overwhelming - friends and family can offer a good listening ear or may be able to help you in other, more practical ways, like helping you with the Christmas shopping.

Lastly, remind your children that it is okay to have fun, laugh and enjoy Christmas too.