Mourning a major bereavement is a personal process with no set formula or absolute ending. Through mourning the child experiences the meaning of the loss for them and learns to live with their bereavement. Certain dates and times of the year such as Christmas time can be very difficult as it reminds the whole family of missing a loved one or it might make you more aware of the absence of a previously felt security. There are some things you can do to help a child to get through the tough times when they are reminded of a loss. Most of these things have to do with remembering. One of the most valuable techniques for getting through a particularly difficult period like Christmas is to commemorate the loved one in a meaningful way. For example, if your partner always said they wanted to visit the Christmas lights in Trafalgar Square but never got around to it, you can commemorate them by doing just that. As a family, you would honour your loved one by thinking of how much they would have enjoyed the festivities.
Certain traditions may be particularly painful without your loved one, but you may not want to experience a secondary sense of loss by letting that tradition go altogether. Stick to doing the things that work for your child- even if they’re a bit different! Sometimes doing quirky and unusual things snaps us out of the heavy black cloud of grief. So if your children want to watch your loved one’s favourite action DVD on Christmas Day – even if it seems inappropriate – go ahead and do so!
Most importantly, create an atmosphere of openess whereby if you or your child feel like crying or even being quiet for a few hours, then that’s OK. Allowing this time to grieve as a family is an important part of coming to terms with your loss.