Helping your Grieving Child at Christmas

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Christmas has a way of jerking those tears right out of us doesn’t it? It’s a time where the pressure to be happy is really on – HO HO HO! Jeepers. It’s a cheer fest, that’s for sure.  One that would make the calmest people want to gouge their own eyes out if they are also trying to cope with feeling of loss and loneliness. Feelings that don’t “match” with how we are ‘supposed’ to feel Christmas.

Here’s the thing though:

Grief doesn't take holidays. Broken hearts know neither hour nor date #parentingthroughgrief #bereavement #grief #selfcare #christmasstress #mentalhealth Tweet to someone who might like this

Maybe, like me, you have recently suffered a significant bereavement. Maybe you are struggling with how to bring your kids as well as yourself through Christmas. Apart from the trauma that can come with any loss there are also the practical issues to contend with at a time when the big beardy guy in red is on his way. Gifts need buying (with maybe less money), visitors need welcoming, relatives need caring – the list, as you well know, is as long as you make it.

As you make it.

We make our own traditions. And if we are suffering we are in no position to function at our previous normal levels. This year, if you’re bereaved, it’s going to be different. It just is. And next year will be too. Eventually, you might be comfortable with the new different, but not yet.

For now, it’s a new normal, and here are some suggestions for you as a person, and as a parent:

1: Give yourself space to grieve, to cry, to shout, to hit something – something that won’t hurt or be hurt. Get in your car and roar at the injustice of it all. You are allowed to be angry, to be devastated, to feel vulnerable. Because you are human. These feelings are a part of you, they are not you. And they won’t break you, even if you sometimes feel broken.

2: Talk to someone. A friend, a therapist, a helpline. You deserve support and need not prove your strength by managing this alone. None of us are built for that. You are surviving – there’s your strength right there.

3: Ask your kids if they need to talk to someone other than you. They might be glad of it. They might have private thoughts and grief of their own that they don’t want to share with you.

 

That’s normal and healthy – simply giving them permission to have those feelings will be a wonderful gift for them. They too need to know that feeling sad, despite Santa’s impending arrival, is definitely normal.

4: Reassure your kids that their grief is not a burden to you. And, (you can guess know where I’m heading with this) remind yourself that your grief is not a burden to those who care about you. If you are the “listener” usually (ahem…), try “talker” on for size and see how it fits. You’re not used to wearing it, I know. But it’s better than suffering the cold. Christmas sure can be cold! (Note – if I can do it you can!!)

5: Set aside a time to remember. Grief, be it a death or a separation, deserves attention. Plan a time when you sit with your memories, and allow your brain to do its thing – it will flit from good to bad, painful to funny and you might cry. Because you are in pain, and that’s just what we do.

Happy and sad

6: Make a new ritual. Christmas is all about ritual and tradition. These are things we create – habits. And that means we can make new ones. Your life may have changed forever because of this loss, and so it’s OK to make a new tradition. It might be visiting a grave, or a favourite place, and eating a favourite meal (not everyone likes turkey – personally I hate the stuff!!). You get to decide.

7: Make a memory box. This can be a great thing to do with kids at this time of year. Each of them can add something that holds significance for them – be it a piece of a toy, or clothing, a photo or a ticket stub. This box can be something each of you can go to, to feel close to the missing person if that’s what you need. It can be tiny or huge. Again, it doesn’t matter, it’s the meaning attached to it and the doing together that will make it special.

Grief - memory box Sally O'Reilly

8: Write your person a card or a letter. Depending on your kids’ age, they might want to do the same. Writing is a time honoured addition to good therapy. You may find that once you start writing we come out with things that you would never have said to ourselves, let alone to another person. And with that can come comfort and clarity. You might then decide to burn it, read it to a friend or a therapist, or keep it in a memory box. It’s your choice. There is no right or wrong way to do any of this.

9: Don’t feel guilty if you find yourself having fun in the middle of all the pain.You are not doing anything wrong. And your missing loved person, if they cared about you, would want you to be able to feel joy.

Unfair grief rules
Ignore these rules – they’re no good.

10: Avoid the temptation to medicate it all away with wine, a few bets or whatever springs to mind. That’s a short term solution that you already know won’t really help.

 

Take care of yourself, and know that this, like everything else we face, will pass.

 

 

This too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass... #grief #bereavement #griefatchristmas #grievingchildren #grievingparents #parenting #christmasstress #selfcare #alittlehumour tweet to another parent

 

(Got that from tinybuddha.com – #truth )

 

 

pic credits: Me and Pixabay

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