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Acorns to Oaktrees

November 19th, 2009 at 6:17 am

Handling Grief during the Holidays (after the death of a child)

COPING WITH THE HOLIDAYS


available for download without my comments.

  • Lower your expectations of yourself.
  • Forget about what other people think you should do and feel – give yourself permission to feel and do whatever you think is right.
  • It’s OK to stay away from children for a while.
  • Pick and choose the family events you will attend.
  • Find comfort or inspiration in a holiday event or a new tradition.
  • Offer kindness and support to others who are having a hard time.
  • Set some goals.
    These can be very small goals, like I will get out of bed on such-&-such day.
  • Do something special for yourself.
  • Look to your religious beliefs for strength and support.
    For those of us who aren’t religious and, perhaps, not even spiritual, we can still find comfort in rituals. A common ritual for many Americans is to make coffee first thing in the morning. It’s more than just the caffiene. The smell of the coffee as you spoon it out. Listening to it perk. Pouring that first cup. Wrapping your hand around the cup. Well, I find doing that very grounding and comforting.
  • Plan ways to help you handle uncomfortable situations.
    Leaving, either temporarily or permanently, is always an option.
  • Plan a special event for just your baby’s parents.
  • Share with your family and friends what helps and what hurts.
    I am an aunt of a child that died. When I went to work for the first time after Diego died, one of my girlfriends took me to her office, closed the door, wrapped me in her arms, and cried with me. Just because it’s been a year, doesn’t mean that I couldn’t use that quiet comfort now, and I’m sure that it is true for parents.
  • If you have other children, try to make the holidays fun for them.
  • Holidays can be emotionally and physically draining. Try to get enough rest.
  • Anticipation of any holiday can be worse than the actual holiday.
  • Remember- holidays are only temporary.

Coping with Grief during Holidays


available for download without my comments.
GriefNet Library: Coping with Grief during Holidays This webpage provides a few book recommendations on how to handle the holidays. The books are probably also good for any celebration.

  1. DECIDE WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE COMFORTABLY AND LET FAMILY AND FRIENDS KNOW. Can I handlle the responsibility of the family dinner, etc. or shall I ask someone else to do it? Do I want to talk about my loved one or not? Shall I stay here for the holidays or go to a completely different environment? Whatever you want is what your family and friends want to give. Please, please, don’t be afraid to say no, this is too much, not now, I can’t, etc. If you can, tell us what you think might work. We love you, and we want to comfort you and help you while you are grieving.
  2. MAKE SOME CHANGES IF THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE FOR YOU. Open presents Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning. Vary the timing of Channukah gift giving. Have dinner at a different time or place. Let the children take over decorating the house, the tree, baking and food preparation, etc.
  3. RE-EXAMINE YOUR PRIORITIES: GREETING CARDS, HOLIDAY BAKING, DECORATING, PUTTING UP A TREE, FAMILY DINNER, ETC. Do I really enjoy doing this? Is this a task that can be shared?
  4. CONSIDER DOING SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR SOMEONE ELSE. Donate a gift in the memory of your loved one. Donate money you would have spent on your loved one as a gift to charity. Adopt a needy family for the holidays. Invite a guest (foreign student, senior citizen) to share festivities.
  5. RECOGNIZE YOUR LOVED ONE’S PRESENCE IN THE FAMILY. Burn a special candle to quietly include your loved one. Hang a stocking for your loved one in which people can put notes with their thoughts or feelings. Listen to music especially liked by the deceased. Look at photographs. I really like the stocking idea.
  6. IF YOU DECIDE TO DO HOLIDAY SHOPPING, MAKE A LIST AHEAD OF TIME AND KEEP IT HANDY FOR A GOOD DAY, OR SHOP THROUGH A CATALOGUE.
  7. OBSERVE THE HOLIDAYS IN WAYS WHICH ARE COMFORTABLE FOR YOU. There is no right or wrong way of handling holidays. Once you’ve decided how to observe the time, let others know.
  8. TRY TO GET ENOUGH REST — HOLIDAYS CAN BE EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY DRAINING.
  9. ALLOW YOURSELF TO EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS. Holidays often magnify feelings of loss. It is natural to feel sadness. Share concerns, apprehensions, feelings with a friend. The need for support is often greater during holidays.
  10. KEEP IN MIND THAT THE EXPERIENCE OF MANY BEREAVED PERSONS IS THAT THEY DO COME TO ENJOY HOLIDAYS AGAIN. THERE WILL BE OTHER HOLIDAY SEASONS TO CELEBRATE.
  11. DON’T BE AFRAID TO HAVE FUN. Laughter and joy are not disrespectful. Give yourself and your family members permission to celebrate and take pleasure in the holidays.

Reprinted from *Bereavement & Loss Resources* a publication of Rivendell Resources and GriefNet.
Rivendell Resources grants anyone the right to reprint this information without request for compensation so long as the copy is not used for profit and so long as this paragraph is reprinted in its entirety with any copied portion. For further information contact: Cendra (ken’dra) Lynn, Ph.D. – Cendra@griefnet.org

Click here for some some further reading suggestions through our bookstore.

Category: Family Stuff Tags: , , ,

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2
  • 1

    It has been almost 19 years since my daughter passed, the pain ( or rather the hole in my heart) is always there the reaction of suffering is less frequent. Birthdays and holidays are very difficult. Allow yourself the day to react to the loss. Sometimes the reaction is great or sometimes you can get by with just a memory or thought. Be strong !

    Rachel black on December 11th, 2009
  • 2

    It has been almost 9months since the we lost our son.He was a stillborn at 35weeks and it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me.Thinking about xmas without him has been very hard.We are also in the middle of a lawsuit and thats a emotional ride itself and all i can do is pray and cry at times over it all.Some times it overwhelming but i know that holding it in isnt good for you either.I am working on alot with me and its a battle at times.I have alot of anger at the doc that is responsible for my sons passing and i hold onto that hate soooo much it over takes me and i break down and loose it all over again.

    jaime on November 24th, 2010
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