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Grief during the holidays

08 Dec, 2021

by Jennie Risley

At ChristianWorks we understand that grief can be difficult during the holiday season. This is typically a time that we gather with family, talk about old memories all while creating new memories. But the holidays can feel overwhelming after experiencing the passing of a loved one, especially if it is a significant member of your family. For some, the feeling of going on without that family member feels impossible or may feel like a slight to them. We have a ministry called GriefWorks and during the holidays we have a commemoration service. This is a time that we gather together and honor the loved one that has died. We recognize the pain that we may be feeling but we also celebrate the life of our loved one.

Our GriefWorks team has put together a video of a few ways that you can incorporate your loved one into your holiday celebrations. Also, below you will find a list of all the materials needed for each craft along with any instructions you might need and links to some suggested items.

Memory Plate:

You can use sharpies but Sharpie paint pens (oil-based) are recommended. (*Tip: if you make a mistake, color over it with a dry erase marker and it will rub off cleaner than with rubbing alcohol.) Set in a cold oven and then set to bake for an hour at 425. Allow to cool completely before removing. Handwashing is best.

Memory Tablecloth:

Place white tablecloth or runner out for loved ones to write special messages or memories of the loved one you are honoring.

Memory Ornaments:

  • clear ornaments
  • strips of paper
  • Ribbon in pink, red, green, yellow, orange, black, gray, blue, white, braided (you can use paper for this as well)
  • beads, confetti, sequins
  • markers, pens

Take a clear plastic ornament.  Explain that each ribbon is a different emotion and they should fill the ornament with the different emotions they feel when they think about the person they have lost.  This is a great time to talk with younger kids about feelings and help them understand that they may be feeling a wide range of different feelings, and that is okay.

Examples for ribbon colors:

  • pink = love
  • red = anger
  • green = calm/peace
  • yellow = worry
  • orange = confusion
  • black = lost
  • gray = numb/shock
  • blue = sad
  • white = hopeful
  • braid = support

Explain next that the sequins represent memories.  Encourage kids to think about different holiday memories they have of the person they have lost.  For each memory have them drop a bead or sequin into the ornament.  This is a great opportunity to share memories together, but if kids don’t want to share that is okay too – don’t push too hard.  For kids who are younger and may have fewer holiday memories, you may want to make this any memory.  You could also use this as a way for you to share a memory with the child, then add a bead for each story you share with them. We also include pearl beads which represent “pearls of wisdom” or things learned in grief.

Finally, write or draw anything you would like on the strip of paper.  This could be a message to the person who died, a memory, or whatever else you wish.  When done, add the paper to the ornament and close it up.  Tie a ribbon to the top and you are all done!

Photo Memory Box:

Grab a box (could be an old shoebox or photo box), decorate with either stickers or markers with things that remind you of that person. Add pictures to the lid and to the inside of the box. This memory box can house items or photos to remember your loved one that has died.

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