How to help your bereaved child cope at Christmas

It’s the end of Children’s Grief Awareness Week and if grief has affected your family, you might be thinking about how to cope with Christmas this year. Preparing for the festive season takes time and if you have a bereaved child, you may need to think of a few more things outside the shopping list and party planning.

Sometimes, just a small gesture will be big in their world, so here are some ideas of things you can do for your child and together, to make Christmas OK again.

Give tangible memories
If you have not managed this before now, give your child a small memento that belonged to the deceased that he/she can have, such as a keychain, photo, locket, or a picture. If you can, let the child choose the item – just having something from their loved one will bring great comfort to them.

Help with preparation
Let children help plan the meal and cook in memory of their loved one. Use this as a way to talk about the deceased.

Make a Christmas tree decoration in memory of the special person
Make and bake salt dough shapes to hang on the tree. You could decorate them with things important to the person who died.

Gifts
Your child may want to buy a small gift for the person who has died and want to leave it by the tree and then after Christmas, place it in their memory box.

Special messages
You and the children could ask friends and family to write special messages to your loved one on star-shaped cut-outs and hang these up on ribbon around the home or on a tree.

Music
Listen to their favourite music, or their favourite Christmas music.

Cards
Make a card for the special person. This can be either put up at home, placed in a memory box or placed on the grave.

The grave/special place
Offer to the children an option of visiting the grave or special place that the ashes have been scattered either before Christmas or sometime over the Christmas period. Perhaps taking a special flower with a message to the loved one.

Cry
Talking about shared tears together over the festive break is OK!

On Christmas Day
Every family member should know that it’s OK not to be OK. Look after yourself, look out for others and if it gets too much, take a breather.
It’s also OK to have fun, smile and make new memories too!

If you need more advice for coping with the festive season, take a look at our other blogs:

How to make the last Christmas with a loved one special

How can my family enjoy Christmas when we’re grieving?

How to help a grieving friend or relative through Christmas