When a loss occurs, it can hit extra hard during the holidays. There might be expectations that the holiday season brings feelings of joy, thankfulness, appreciation, and wishes come true however, for some families the holidays can also mean loss. As a teen therapist who works with teenagers struggling with grief, the holiday season can be confusing. Kids might observe the joy around them and not understand why they feel sadness due to the loss of a loved one, missing friendships, or the change in the family dynamics.
Feel Your Emotions
One of the most helpful ways to support your kids during this time is to allow them to feel their emotions, whatever those may be. Each child might grieve differently and it’s important for you, as the parent, to allow them space to grieve and feel happy on their terms.
Embrace the Changes
The holiday season might look different than most years and that’s okay. Lean into the idea that this holiday season might have a mix of new and old traditions and involve different activities or different people. Another way to support your kid would be to ask them what new tradition or activity they would like to take part in this holiday season.
Honor the Loss
When suffering a loss, pretending that everything is fine can set you and your child up for stress and disappointment. The intentions are good, but your child may feel that there is something missing or the family has changed. A helpful tip would be for you to take the time to honor the loss. This may look like doing an activity in remembrance of the loved one. Explore with your kid what would be a good activity, volunteer opportunity, craft, or fundraiser they would like to do in honor of their special person.
Keep Normal Routines
Kids thrive off routine and structured schedules. Keeping their normal routines and schedule during the holidays can provide them with stability and security while they weather their grief. It is important for parents to have a flexible mindset where they try to keep the normal schedule of bedtime and meal routines, however, are also cognizant of what their kid needs.
Support and Allow Space
Lastly, your kid needs you during this holiday season. Supporting and allowing space for your child to grieve is sacrificial and emotionally draining at times. While your child is looking to you to be their anchor and provide stability, parents must take moments for themselves to grieve and get support. The more you can allow others to be there for you during this sad and joyful time, the more you are able to be there for your kid. ashleyhudsontherapy.com