There’s nothing quite like spending time with loved ones in the Christmas holidays. The festive season is for gathering together with family and friends.
But for others, the holidays can be an incredibly challenging time of year especially if you’ve lost someone close to you. From greeting cards and watching festive films together to the traditions you once shared and the empty seat at the dinner table, there will be reminders everywhere.
This sense of grief in heightened during this time of year because families come together, some traveling long distances, to spend time with each other. For a child who has lost a sibling, parent or even grandparent, these holidays are particularly hard and they will need extra support.
According to a recent study by the Childhood Bereavement Network, 90% of parents whose partner had died in the last 10 years said the COVID-19 pandemic had deepened their feelings of loneliness and isolation and 80% said their children had also struggled with loneliness and isolation.
Winston’s Wish, a charity dedicated to helping bereaved children, have produced a list of helpful suggestions for coping with grief in the holidays. We have edited this list to share with you. Read on to also hear Kenneth Steven’s advice on coping with grief this Christmas.
Here are some ways to help you and your children cope with your grief during these Christmas holidays:
1. Talk together as a family about how you feel and what you want to do
It’s easier for children if the adults in their lives talk to them about Christmas and the holiday period and acknowledge that this might be a difficult time of year for them.
The festivities around Christmas can stimulate some powerful feelings for everyone and children may want to talk about this. By listening to your child, you are telling them that their feelings are expected and normal and that they are not alone.
2. Make plans for the holidays that take into account everyone’s wishes where practical
Grief is experienced in a myriad of different ways by everyone. You should try and talk together and see if you can make a plan that will be sensitive to everyone’s wishes.
At the same time, it is okay to change your mind if you find it harder than expected. Take time for yourself and change your plans if this occurs.
3. Take time to remember your loved one
It can really help to remember the person who has died at Christmas. Here are a few suggestions:
- You could mark the memory of the person by doing something special. e.g. lighting a candle, writing a card for them, or making a donation to a charity in their memory.
- You could create a quiet corner for people to go if they want five minutes to think about the person who has died.
- You could make decorations to hang on the tree in the memory of your loved one.
- Let your children know that it’s still okay to laugh and have fun this in the holidays
- Look after yourselves and take time out if you need it
Silverwing by Kenneth Steven
Silverwing is a moving story of ten-year-old Douglas, who has recently lost his mother to cancer. The boy and his father haven’t been able to communicate since her death, and the house is a place of sadness.
It is a heart-warming story of loss, resilience, and connection with other people and with nature. Illustrated with gorgeous drawings throughout, this is a story that will stay with you even after you close the book.
A note from Kenneth Steven on coping with grief this Christmas
“With this story, Douglas and his Dad are at opposite ends of the house, hardly talking, both still missing terribly the Mum and wife they’ve lost. I suppose if I were to go through a smiliar situation I just hope more than anything I’d be there for my child. I hope I could find ways of talking with them and getting alongside them. I hope I’d be able to listen; not just to talk, but to listen. I feel very strongly that more and more we live in a society where everyone is talking and no-one is listening. I believe too we live at a time when we’ve never been so divorced from nature. Many of us have lost that connnection altogether, but it can be repaired. I find it incredibly inspiring reading the stories of children who’ve connected with the natural world and who’ve been set alight by the power and wonder of what they find. That’s all I can say because I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I took myself for a long and special walk with this story because I wanted to explore our connections with family and with the beauty all around us in nature. ”