Picture of a Feel the Magic family on the remembrance tree

12 Ways to Remember Your Loved One this Christmas

For many families in our community, Christmas and the holiday season can be a difficult time.

Memories may serve as a constant reminder of a loss, and some families may experience heightened stress and sadness.

Feelings of grief may be rekindled as children reminisce about previous memories or as they create new ones. 

But there are special ways in which you can remember a loved one during this time and share in connection time as a family.

This guide 12 ways to remember your loved one at Christmas may help you and your kids missing a loved one. Including some tips from our own community.

In the coming days, some people in our community will share how they will remember their loved this Christmas. Follow along on our socials.

Do you need help guiding your grieving kids through Christmas? Read our tips to prepare grieving kids for the holiday season.

Plus, self-care for parents is important during the holiday season when there may be added pressures. This guide may help you to check-in with yourself at this busy time.

You are not alone, our grief community is online and our resources are available to read and watch any time.

Remember a loved one

How to Prepare Your Grieving Kids for the Holiday Season

Whilst the holiday season is usually a time of joy and celebration, for many grieving kids and teens it can be a time of sadness and loneliness. 

The holiday season comes with high expectations, such as family commitments and large celebrations at home and school. Grieving children often experience these ‘hallmark’ moments differently to others, and this can cause difficult feelings and emotions. For those who have lost a loved one, the holiday season can also intensify feelings of grief and sadness. 

The first Christmas or holiday season without a loved one may also be particularly challenging for children and teenagers. Similarly, Christmas and holiday seasons later in bereavement can also be challenging as children move into different life stages or take on new roles in family celebrations. 

Below are some tips that may help support your grieving child during the festive season. 

1. Balance new and old traditions  

The holiday season often comes with established traditions and rituals. Some families may want to continue their existing traditions, whereas others may want to change them, just as their ‘normal’ has now changed. 

Remind your child that the holiday season does not need to be perfect or the same as last year. Explain to them that as families grow, traditions and rituals often change. Make sure they understand that there is no “right way” to celebrate the holidays and whatever you choose this year can always change next year. Include them in decision making and ask all family members to contribute their thoughts on keeping traditions and/or establishing new ones. 

2. Provide consistency amongst the chaos

Research shows that stable routines and consistency in the environment are important for supporting the psychological safety of bereaved children and young people. However, the holiday season is often a busy time, with guests staying over or activities at unusual times of the day. 

Where possible, maintain the child’s usual routines and structure. For example, if the child is staying at a family member’s house, consider bringing items from home such as their favourite toys or pillows. Similarly, if a child is staying up late watching festive movies, try to maintain the same bedtime routine/structure – just at a later time of the day. 

3. Set realistic expectations

Since everyone grieves differently, it is difficult to anticipate how your child may feel during the holiday period. Setting realistic expectations for how they might feel will normalise the fact that such a time may evoke powerful memories and feelings surrounding their lost loved one. 

Preparing your child that they are likely to experience grief reactions may help them understand that it is normal to feel sadness and grief, but it is also okay to feel happy too. Communicate to your child that they may need to take time to cry or express their feelings to someone they trust. Importantly, reassure them that they are not alone.  

4. Plan together

Letting your grieving child share what they would like to do is an opportunity to teach them the power of remembering. Planning with your child will give them a greater sense of control and may help ease anxiety leading up to this period. 

Your child may want to commemorate the holiday period with ongoing emotional connections with their lost loved one. Alternatively, your child may prefer to keep their memories to themselves and grieve privately, and that is okay too. 

There is no right or wrong way. When planning how you will spend the significant days, consider that it may be easier to leave someone else’s house than to ask people to leave yours. 

No two people will experience grief in the same way. You may find different family members may want to do different things during the holiday season. Being open and talking as a family can help to make plans that are sensitive to everyone’s wishes.  

5. Share holiday memories and stories

If possible, share holiday stories about the loved one that the child might not have heard before. For example, their favourite Christmas present from when they were little, or photos of their loved one at festive events. 

Research shows that talking with others who remember the deceased person is an important part of helping children and families maintain a connection with their loved one. Children and young people might also benefit from engaging in activities such as cooking their loved one’s favourite meal, or watching their favourite holiday movie, as another way to maintain this connection. 

6. Ask them how they would like to remember their loved during the holidays

Examples of ways to remember a loved one during the holidays include setting a place at the table or lighting a special candle. Your child may want to use a creative expression such as art, writing or music to remember their loved one. 

Follow us here and on socials for our soon-to-be-released guide for ideas and inspiration from our grief community about how to honour a loved one during the holiday season.

Plus, read our self-care tips for parents during the holiday season HERE.

Grieving during the holiday season can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, however it’s important to remember that you are not alone. When you feel overwhelmed, you should practice self-care and reach out to access additional grief support services

Feel the Magic offer support to help support you and your child through the difficult times following the death of a loved one. Click here to read further information on supporting children and teens through grief, anniversaries and significant events. 

If you would like to join a support network of other families who understand what you’re currently experiencing, you can join our grief community

Have more questions about what to say to a child when a parent dies or how to support a child through their grieving process? Please submit an enquiry and we will contact you as soon as possible. 

References: 

Boerner, K., & Heckhausen, J. (2003). To have and have not: adaptive bereavement by transforming mental ties to the deceased. Death studies, 27(3), 199–226. 

Schwab, R. (2004). Acts of remembrance, cherished possessions, and living memorials. Generations, 28, 26–30. 

5 Ways to Talk to a Grieving Child on Father's Day

5 Ways to Talk to a Grieving Child on Father’s Day

For many families in our community, Father’s Day can be a difficult milestone. And for many others, they can struggle to know what to say to a grieving child.

Often, because they fear saying the wrong thing, or don’t even know what to say, they say nothing at all.

We want to change that and help children and adults give grieving kids the support they deserve.

Helpful tips for talking to a grieving child

We’ve put together this guide 5 Ways to Talk to a Grieving Child on Father’s Day (as recommended by grieving kids!) to help your child or a friend who misses their Dad.

It doesn’t always have to be with words, a simple text message can make all the difference.

By simply taking the time to let grieving kids know you are there and thinking of them, you can prove they are not alone this Father’s Day.

In the next couple of weeks, we’d also like to invite you, your family and friends to join our movement – #LetsTalkFathersDay.

Building a community of support

We hope to build communities of support for grieving kids, by giving the wider public the confidence to reach out and support them.

It’s also a chance for grieving kids to share how they’d like people to support them around Father’s Day – whether that be through sharing memories, building new traditions, or maybe the opposite – not talking about Father’s Day too much at all. 

Follow us on socials in the coming days and join us to create a movement that helps grieving kids feel safe to talk about their Dad. 

If you’re supporting a bereaved child or know one, you may find our article How to support a grieving child on Father’s Day helpful. It explores the importance of social support as an important aspect of encouraging post-traumatic growth in young people.

You may also find this article ‘Supporting Children & Teens Through Grief Anniversaries and Significant Events’ useful to help support a child or teen through significant milestones.

How to support a grieving child on Father’s Day

Father’s Day can be a difficult day for many children grieving the death of their dad or a significant male in their life.

For many others, they can struggle to know what to say to a grieving child. From fear of saying the wrong thing, they often say nothing at all, leaving the child feeling even more isolated and alone.

We want to help you change that.

Give your support to grieving kids

Evidence shows social support is an important aspect of encouraging ‘post-traumatic growth’ in young people who have experienced the death of a parent or guardian.

Talking with grieving kids about their loved one and their grief is important.

Post traumatic growth is shown through positive psychological changes to their beliefs, self-esteem, and identity, following highly difficult life events. Having opportunities to express their grief is important.

Remember that you don’t need to take away their grief and pain, you just need to hold space for it and let children know that all emotions and responses are valid.

Research, and our own experience of supporting grieving children through our evidence-informed programs, have shown the positive effect on wellbeing of talking with grieving kids.

It doesn’t always have to be with words.

If children don’t want to talk about their grief verbally, conversation and connection can be through things like symbols, drawing, craft, dance, poetry, play, images and text messages.

Grieving children often feel isolated from their friends and community. Others around them may not have experienced bereavement and loss like they have. They can feel detached and alone, especially on significant days like Father’s Day.

Many of us don’t know how to support grieving children during difficult times like Father’s Day.

We asked kids from our Feel the Magic community what they would like their friends and family to say to them on Father’s Day.

Here is their advice on how to talk about their dad (spoiler: they want to be included!), plus we share some of our tips: ‘5 Ways to Talk to a Grieving Child on Father’s Day’.

If you are supporting a bereaved child or know one, there is help available and a community who understand what you are going through.

You may find this article ‘Supporting Children & Teens Through Grief Anniversaries and Significant Events’ useful to help support your child or teen.

Our mission at Feel the Magic is to ensure grieving kids, families and their friends have the support and resources to help them feel and heal through their grief.

Our Grief Resource Hub has guides, activities, books, videos and TED talks you may find helpful.

We have a range of face to face and virtual camps, so we can help grieving kids heal – no matter where they are.

If you need guidance, you are welcome to make an appointment to chat to one of the team. Or join our team at one of our monthly information sessions to learn more about programs, camps and resources.

References

Auman, M. J. (2007). Bereavement Support for Children. The Journal of School Nursing, 23(1), 34–39. https://doi.org/10.1177/10598405070230010601

Metel, M., & Barnes, J. (2011). Peer-group support for bereaved children: a qualitative interview study. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 16(4), 201–207. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-3588.2011.00601.x

Wolchik, S. A., Coxe, S., Tein, J. Y., Sandler, I. N., & Ayers, T. S. (2009). Six-Year Longitudinal Predictors of Posttraumatic Growth in Parentally Bereaved Adolescents and Young Adults. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying58(2), 107–128. https://doi.org/10.2190/OM.58.2.b

The Tickell Family Story

In December 2017, Cody Tickell who at the time was aged 11, tragically lost his older brother Blake in a horrific boating accident.

Feeling isolated and alone, Cody’s parents Darren and Simone decided to give ‘Camp Magic‘ a try to help support Cody and themselves to come to terms  with their new normal. In October 2018, Cody attended his first Camp Magic program and was finally surrounded by others who get it.

Here is what Cody, Darren and Simone had to say about their experience with Feel the Magic.

This beautiful video has been put together by Feel the Magic Ambassador Dimity Clancey from Nine Entertainment. and was showcased at our most recent Night of Magic VII gala event.

This footage truly captures the mindset of a bereaved child and how they are deeply affected by such loss.

We would like to thank and acknowledge the Tickell family, for their bravery and courage for sharing their personal story of grief and loss.