Thursday, December 7, 2017

Grieving Children and Youth at Christmas

Joyce Sasse - Christmas should be a celebration time for children, or so we think. But for many the glitter and giggles, the thrills and excitement make them feel worse. It may be because they are grieving.

If a family member or friend has died, if they’ve lost a pet, or if there is illness of someone close, sadness could be expected. What if they are overwhelmed by the bleakness of broadcast-news, or have developed an awareness brought on by something at school? The suffering experienced by a classmate can short-circuit any pending feeling of celebration

Teenagers carry their own burdens of sorrow and depression.

In my own history the death of two brothers, one a six-year-old and the other aged seven, constantly overshadowed our family. My mother, with a heavy sigh, would say “no one can understand unless they’ve lost one of their own.” That loss was also true for we siblings.

It was the Grandmothers who helped us talk about our feelings as we shed tears together. Despite what others may say by way of offering false reassurance, the feeling of loss doesn’t go away. Each woman helped us in her own way to “grow strong in our broken places”. One, through her marvelous baking and her church-going faith, reassured us that we didn’t have to carry our burdens alone. God loves us and so did she. Our “Ranch-Granny” seldom got to church, but showed us the lessons nature taught about life and death, and about respect for heritage and community.

We were encouraged to discover messages of hope that would help carry us through the bad times.

With children and youth, especially at this time of the year, whether they be kindred or strangers, we need to give them special heed. Instead of sugar diets and lots of Ho! Ho! Ho!, all of us can find ways to offer relaxed and quiet support, offer realistic expectations, suggest pacing that doesn’t leave them exhausted, and share meaningful traditions.

This is what it means to be part of the Community of Saints.

For both younger ones and adults, a helpful resource might be Hospice Calgary’s website . Their Sage Centre offers “Compassionate support when life changes”.

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