For parents and carers the summer holidays can be daunting, especially when you are grieving or caring for a loved one with a terminal illness. Here are some tips for making the summer holidays more manageable for you and your family:
Acknowledge endings and goodbyes
The end of term or the end of primary/secondary school can bring difficult feelings to the surface, related to a child’s experience of bereavement or a facing the death of a loved one. It can be helpful for children to have these feelings supported and reflected back. If they haven’t been able to say goodbye in the way they wanted, you can support them in drawing a picture or writing a card and posting it to their chosen person.
Take the days and weeks at your own pace
Some days may feel harder than others. Be kind to yourself, allow for rest and space for feelings to be expressed. Remember that it is OK to have fun and to enjoy moments together.
Stick to familiar routines (but allow for flexibility)
Routines and structure can provide important consistency for children during difficult times and help them to feel safe. However, there may be times when it feels more important to stay with a child’s feelings (i.e. at bedtime) or to be spontaneous (i.e. a last-minute outing or meeting with friends). Trust in what is best for you and your family.
Take time to look after yourself
This is no easy task. But it is so important for children (and reassuring) to see their adult taking care of their own well-being, even in the smallest of ways i.e. making a cup of tea and sitting down with them to watch a TV programme.
Prioritise time for connection
This can take the form of little moments throughout the day i.e. a cuddle or more focused time i.e. providing one to one time (with phones and devices set aside) with your child. Connection time can be very restorative and soothing for both children and adults. It can reassure a child, that their close relationships remain strong in the face of grief.
Find ways to remember your loved one
If a child is open to this, you can ask them for their ideas. Examples include, cooking their favourite meal, visiting a place they enjoyed or listening to music they liked.
Remember to ask for help
It can be helpful to think together about your support network i.e. who you can call on for support or who the children feel comfortable talking with. People may include family members, friends, school staff, professionals, even pets!
Go for a walk
When things feel overwhelming, fresh air and nature can be incredibly calming. We’ve created a walk checklist to keep little one’s occupied which is free to download.
We are here for you. For anyone struggling to cope, our helpline is open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 12.30pm. Call 01342 313895 if you need support or advice. We help bereaved children and young people and those facing the death of a loved one in Surrey, Crawley, Mid Sussex and West Kent.