For the Kids: Five Ways to Remember a Passed Loved One This Christmas
Sometimes grief comes to the Christmas feast-filled table unexpectedly. Other times it appears wrapped neatly under the tree for all to see. The holidays can be a wonderful and joy-filled time of year and for others experiencing the loss of a loved one, it can be one of the most emotionally challenging. For some kids, this might be their first holiday without their loved one and this might change how they feel and react to the season.
There wasn’t a chance in my own younger years to create family traditions with my Mum before she passed when I was one. I often wondered if she’d be the one baking all the rum balls my Nan so lovingly rolled with me while I snuck more condensed milk from the can than any one child should be allowed.
While we filled our holidays with as much as we could, there was always the little stin of grief visiting the cemetery after Christmas mass. Knowing that while we celebrated and snacked on chocolate-covered peanuts the people we loved and missed weren’t there.
Having lost my grandpa when I was 12, who helped raise me after my mum passed, grief and Christmas went hand in hand for several years.
I would like to say that we marked the occasions with new traditions and kept their memories alive with ease but it was harder than we could have imagined. Grief isn’t always clear cut and now having written and illustrated my book to help children going through grief, I understand it so much more than I did before.
It doesn’t ever really go away, it’s not exactly that simple. It fills our hearts and over time we expand around that grief to allow more of the other parts of our life to exist.
We go through the five stages; denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance in our own unique way and times like Christmas and other special holidays or events can bring us back to those stages of grief.
Writing Sage and the Journey of Grief, helped me to see that those days like anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas can be a time to grieve but also remember them and create new traditions to help celebrate who they were.
If you have or know a child experiencing the loss of a loved one this season my heart goes out to you and them. I know from my childhood that this time of year can be draining and hard. I’m thinking of you all and please know that you’re not alone. Remember to take the holidays one day at a time and please take care of yourselves.
I’ve put together my favourite five gentle and thoughtful ways to remember a passed one love this year. Some of these ideas and crafts may bring up memories of sadness, take it gently on yourselves.
Make an ornament
This one can be as simple as you want or you can get crafty with it. Take any bauble ornament and using some acrylic paint you can write the letter or name of the person you want to remember. You can make this more of an outing by visiting your local shops and having the kids pick out an ornament that reminds them of their loved ones. You could also get a styrofoam bauble and cover it in one of their old shirts. One of my favourites is to take a photo and place it in a nice frame ornament and you can get the kids to make one or decorate it as they like.
Write them a letter or card
This one doesn’t require many supplies and most people will have paper around the house. I like to write my loved ones a nice letter for special occasions, sometimes it could be as simple as “I miss you” or “thinking of you”. You can write out what your year was like, anything you want to share or celebrate with them. I like to leave my letter or card near a photo of my loved one and keep it out for the holiday I’m marking.
Make a memory box
This one is a great idea to place under the tree. Using a box, this can be a normal cardboard box like a shoebox and decorate it in colours, stickers and photos of your loved one. Pop on some holiday tunes and fill the box with photos, letters and notes of memories you have of them or would like to share with them. Each year you can add more to the box and if you can reflect and connect on those memories you had with them. If your kids can’t remember or weren’t born when this loved one passed this can still be a nice way to get them to know who they were.
Plant a tree or garden in their honour
For the gardening-loving family and if you don’t have a green thumb there are still ways you can incorporate this idea. Getting outside is a great way to calm the nervous system especially when the holiday season is a busy one. Visit your local nursery and find a plant, flower or tree that resonates with you for your loved one. You can find a cute pot or plant directly in the ground. You can mark the plant with painted stones. If you don’t have space, time or gardening ability you could opt for a succulent, lego flowers or even make paper ones.
Make their favourite meal
The holidays are often centred around food and this can be a great way to gather together to remember loved ones. Was there a special dish or family recipe that they made every year? Or did they love a certain treat that you can add to the table and make sure they’re remembered on the day? A great way to add to this is to pop on some music they enjoyed and share stories of what they were like. Ask everyone what was their favourite memory with them. What’s something they did that made you laugh? Did they have a favourite saying?
I know holidays are never be the same without our loved ones but we can still make memories and traditions in a new way. I know I’ll be doing my own version of these ways to remember my mum and family.
Sending you all the best for a wonderful Christmas and safe holiday season.