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Special Anniversaries & Celebrations

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Here are a few survival ideas for times of celebration...

Needs of Grieving Children - Special Anniversaries & Celebrations, Christmas, Chanukah etc.

  • Children, like adults, may find that grief is particularly painful at times of family celebration
  • Memories of times past are likely to be close to the surface and children are likely to feel vulnerable as they hear other children discussing plans for family get togethers
  • It is important that children be allowed to talk about their memories if it is important for them to do so. Some children may withdraw, distract themselves or 'act out' if their anxiety is too high
  • Children are helped when their surviving parent, other caregivers and family members talk about the person who has died as naturally as possible and include them in thoughts about and plans for, the celebration
  • Children may like to place special decorations on the Christmas tree, light candles in memory of their dead parent, write cards and letters, or buy a family present they think their dead parent might like them to enjoy shopping for food, cards and gifts can be particularly painful and children (like adults) may suddenly be overcome with tears or anger
  • The sound of familiar music may present even greater difficulty when heard in public places
  • Sharing 'remember when . . .' memories can be a bitter sweet experience, allowing everyone to laugh and cry as they need
  • Some families find it helpful to do something different, especially for the first experience of each special time after a parent has died. They may choose to be with different people; to include more people or be on their own; to go to a different place, or alter familiar rituals
  • Whatever plans are made, it is important to warn family and friends everything may have to be changed at the last minute. Families who have chosen to be with company may suddenly decide they need to be alone, or vice versa
  • There is no right or wrong; it is just important to build in flexibility and to warn people of this need so they won't take it personally and be offended
  • Pain cannot be avoided. The sounds, sights smells and memories of familiar family celebrations and rituals don't cause the pain, but may provide an opportunity for pain that is close to the surface to be expressed openly
  • It is important to remind children and ourselves at these times that pain is love in the absence of that loved person. It is the price we pay for choosing to love and to live
  • Grief is not a bad thing, and it won't cause children or adults to go mad or to die as long there is enough love, understanding and support available
  • Family celebrations provide a valuable opportunity to model for children our capacity to encompass all human emotions (Joy, sadness, fear and anger) at the same time - to teach them that that is life

Extract from 'The Grief Of Our Children' by Dianne McKissock

Click here to see a review of this book or purchase

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Central Coast Websites
Bereavement Care Centre Home Page A Friend's Place - Click Here to go to www.childhoodgrief.org.au website