How to help children with loss during the holidays

mh_article8 With all seasons we experience transitions. Perhaps in California we don’t see the seasons manifested so distinctly as in the East Coast yet we feel them inside. The fall is a season of internal reflection. We make room for this mental activity when the long summer evenings have been replaced by the changing of the clocks and we fall back one hour. Fall is a time we spend with families celebrating Thanksgiving and making way for a season of cheer to rejoice in Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah and their special meanings. Yet the holidays also trigger emotions of loneliness, abandonment and grief. Depression can set in when we remember the loss of a loved one or are grieving from a traumatic situation that occurred around this time. El Centro de Amistad Board Member David Moreno, who is a social worker at Pacoima Charter Elementary School, offered three suggestions for how to help your children cope with this time of year. Communicate—Open communication is important. It’s always good to hold on to memories rather than avoiding conversation that typically follows when remembering the memory. “During the first holiday following a death, divorce or any type of loss for students can be difficult,” said David, who also realizes the holiday break is the longest they have away from school so informing parents on how to address this topic is crucial to children’s resilience. Parents might be going through their own emotions yet listening to children share their own feelings and memories is validating. “You want to be your child’s container of their emotions,” said David. “The more you can contain and talk about it even when you don’t have the right words is significant.” Letting children feel what they feel, allowing the space and silence, and being present are things that can be so healing, David explained. Create new traditions—While children and most individuals hold on to memories of past traditions, it’s just as important to create new ones. It may be hard to go to grandmother’s home since she passed away so establishing a new tradition at your home or another relative’s home may be the transition a child needs. You can also honor your loved ones by remembering them together. Explore the city—“The more idle time children have at home, the harder it can be,” said David. Free events in community provide numerous activities and distractions for children to be happy and enjoy the holidays. One source he uses is, a website that offers ideas that are aspirational and actionable that you can do at home, in your city or wherever your adventures take you. Looking at the City of San Fernando’s Recreation and Community website,, can be a useful source to explore your community without dipping into your pocket.