Dealing with grief is hard enough, and as holidays approach, perhaps the harsh reality of being the surviving caregiver responsible for the children who are also grieving has complicated your grief considering the holiday season.
Here are two tips and practical suggestions for you to help navigate the holidays.
- Enlist a support system
- Have a conversation.
Enlist A Support System
If it is difficult to ask or reach out, let one person know and give them the task of helping with your input. This gives them something to do; people generally want to help but do not know how to help.
A support system is specific people you have asked to come alongside you and your children as help. A support system can be beneficial. Seek help/support from relatives, family friends, church leaders, and others who can help your children through the difficulties of the holiday season.
Are you concerned about how their children will react during the holidays after the loss of a loved one? Worrying about the sadness the child may feel is common. That is normal. Parents often want to try and keep up a happy face for the child. That is a mistake. Youth learn day by day and develop for the future. They know the truth, and they can sense a cover-up even from a distance. Honesty builds self-esteem and reassures their sense of security. These are teachable moments seizing them as they arise can lead to health in healing now and for the future as children will grow up to have other losses.
The child needs to feel and process the sadness of grief during the holidays, just like the parent does. It’s an excellent time for the parent and child to face hard emotions during the holidays. It is a great time to be honest and allow raw authenticity to strengthen the stability a grieving child needs to reestablish any shaken sense of security that may have resulted from the loss. It also allows adults to experience less internal conflict and worry. It helps benefits the family in depth and newly established support because of the loss. It allows for strengthening what remains.
Are you worried that the children may suffer and that the things that had been so positive may now become a negative experience? Plan ahead.
What can I do to make the holidays special with a loved one gone?
Are you concerned that they are going to experience the loss more deeply during the holidays than they do during the rest of the year?
Have A Conversation
Talk to them before the holiday season starts.
A sample conversation
“We are coming into a holiday season, and the ads we see on TV are going to be about families and kids exchanging gifts to their loved ones. We do not have that this same scenario this year, but we are going to go ahead and do the best that we can and celebrate what the season is about even though ______ is gone. I know we all hurt and could use some special love and support. I know that I do, and I believe that ______ would want us to pull together. We are also going to come up with some new traditions, and it will be okay. This may feel different. There may be things that happen that you are going to feel sad about, but come home, and let’s talk about it so that we can work through it together.”
This holiday season, acknowledge a child’s grief as valid and unique to his relationship to the loved one missed. Affirmation and validation go a long way in building strong relationships.
While grief is unique, a family can be strengthened through respect and the support of each other. Listen to what children say; there may be a perspective that helps you, as a parent, see grief through the eyes of a child.
©2019 All Rights Veronica Sites
Sources: GriefShare.org Surviving The Holidays