Help and advice for bereaved children, young people and their families in Dorset

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The first Christmas without a loved one-News-6.12.17

December 2017 

For many children and young people across Dorset, this Christmas will be very different; their first Christmas without a loved one. 
With the hectic lead-in to Christmas and the never-ending TV commercials featuring happy families; bereaved children and young people can feel a confusing mixture of both sadness and excitement.
Involving children and young people in Christmas plans and listening to their ideas will help them feel more secure emotionally. Things that can help include:
Christmas traditions:
Do what works for you and your family. You may choose to stay at home, stay with relatives or to go away. 
Maintaining family traditions may be helpful as children gain comfort from routine; involve the children in deciding how best to celebrate the festive period.
Making a memory bauble to hang on the tree, lighting a special candle, creating a memory tablecloth or making a toast to the loved one during Christmas dinner are some different ways to help acknowledge their special person during this difficult time.
Children’s feelings:
Give children the permission to feel the way they do. Let your child know that it is acceptable to happily unwrap their presents one moment and then cry or feel sad the next.
 It can be confusing experiencing both feelings at the same time, so it is important to help them understand that it is normal and that they are not expected to feel any particular way. Some children may feel guilty because they feel happy or excited despite their loss. Remind them that expressing joy and being happy doesn't mean that they miss the lost loved one any less.
Your feelings are important too: 
Explain to your child how you feel. Don't hide your feelings from your children as this will only teach them to deny their own feelings. 
Explain to them that you may not be in the best physical and/or emotional state during this time but it is not because of anything they did.
It is healthy to talk “about the elephant in the room” - about their loved one that has died especially during important occasions such as Christmas.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is no set timetable for a person to grieve. Everyone grieves differently.  As long there is enough love and support available, grieving actually helps a child acknowledge their loss and move forwards with their life.
 
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