Thanksgiving and Christmas are times of joy and fun and laughter. Many of us get together with
or friends and sometimes both. We enjoy meals together, we laugh together, and we enjoy being with those who mean so much to us.
For many, however, these holidays are just a very sad and hard reminder that those who are loved the most are no longer here. Laughter is replaced with tears and an empty seat at the table is heartbreaking. While this heartbreak affects people of all ages, children have anespecially hard time. Think of your favorite childhood memories. It’s quite possible that many of them center around Christmas or birthdays, Thanksgiving or Halloween. Times that are special, out of the ordinary;
days that are celebrated a little differently than everyday. The holidays are so exciting for
children but when an important person in their lives is no longer here to be a part of it, it can
leave an empty feeling. Loneliness and sadness can creep in and the holidays might not feel
quite as exciting anymore. How can you make the holidays special while still remembering those who have died?
(1) Carry on a special tradition with the child(ren). If their father died, and they used to always go and pick out a Christmas tree with him, consider keeping that tradition going. Talk about their past Christmas tree adventures, what they loved the most about them, and why it was so special. (2) Set a place at the dinner table for the one who has died. In place of food on the plate, have the child(ren) write down why they are thankful for that person on strips of paper, and place them at the spot. Before the meal, consider saying a prayer for them, talking about them, or sharing memories. (3) Take the child(ren) shopping in the memory of their loved one and wrap the gift up,
giving it to an organization that helps those in need during the holidays. If their mother
loved scented candles, find one that the child(ren) thinks she’d especially like. Help them
write a little description of their mother, why she liked the item, and how you are keeping
her spirit alive through the act of gift-giving and generosity. (4) Family pictures can be really difficult when an important member of the family isn’t there. Make it a special time and incorporate the deceased family member in some way: a special picture being held by the child, a scarf or hat or another clothing item that was theirs, or a special location. (5) Ask the child(ren) if there is anything they can think of that might be special to them -something in memory of their loved one. If what they come up with is feasible and appropriate, try and make it happen. This holiday season, think of the children in your life who have suffered a significant loss. What can you do to help them in their grief journey?