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Christmas for a bereaved child

(39 Posts)
Mamma66 Mon 07-Dec-20 07:45:09

My stepsons are coming for Christmas. My middle stepson has a ten year old daughter. She has had two bereavements this year and her world has been turned upside down. She is a lovely little girl and my initial thought was to try to make Christmas as special as possible, but I am not sure if this is for the best or not? Normally I would just let the children make their own entertainment and have fun together, but none of her cousins will be here. Her father has sole custody and whilst she will see her half sisters and Mother briefly on Christmas Eve she will otherwise just be with us. I know her least well of all of our grandchildren and the fact that she will be the only child in the house and after the truly dreadful year she has had I don’t know what to do for the best. Not much point talking to her Father about it, he is at a loss I think. He is doing his best and looking after her basic needs as best he can but he is on autopilot. She is having counselling which I hope is helping. Any ideas?

Galaxy Mon 07-Dec-20 07:51:33

Oh I am sorry to hear that. I would do what you normally do at Christmas, and follow her lead if perhaps she needs some quiet time, eg make sure she knows where she can go to to chill out. Normality, routine, love and trying to help her feel at home. I think you will be fine, you sound like you are doing a good job flowers

Anrol Mon 07-Dec-20 08:17:40

So sorry to read this. I would make her feel extra special by spending as much unforced quiet time as possible. Perhaps having her own box, with her name in it, so if she can start making good memories again. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just hers. Put some age appropriate games in it that you can play together. Have a scrap book and bits and pieces with glue and fancy pens, all age appropriate of course. Baker Ross do some great easy crafty bits you can sit together and guide her with. She may even feel comfortable enough to speak about her losses. I believe children are much more resilient than we give them credit for. Whatever you chose to do make the box is hers.
Perhaps when she leaves, suggest her box remain at yours full of lovely memories for the next time she visits. You will look after it for her and it will always be there. Perhaps you can add to the box in the future when you get to know her likes and dislikes, you could talk about this as a reassurance that the next visit you can do some special things together again. Good luck.

OceanMama Mon 07-Dec-20 08:19:46

I have dealt with bereaved children who had a very close loss. My suggestion is that it's important to keep to the regular routine and keep things as normal as possible for them. Some people do like to add a little something, like lighting a candle in memory of the person who is missing, but I wouldn't do anything like that unless the immediate families of the children give the go ahead. It won't be the only year Christmas is tough if these are really personal losses either. I feel for the father having to do Christmas for the sake of the kids. It's so hard and he'd probably ignore it if he didn't have his kids to think of.

Christmas is really a cruelty for the bereaved, especially the first years.

OceanMama Mon 07-Dec-20 08:22:26

PS. I would also be prepared for the child to be miserable and hate Christmas because of the person missing. Is it their mother? They may feel it acutely on the day and not show good Christmas spirit. Let them.

Or they might still find Christmas exciting and not seem to be affected.

You just don't know. Just go with however it unfolds with the child.

BlueBelle Mon 07-Dec-20 08:26:41

Give Winstons Wish a call my daughter found their advice invaluable when her children’s Daddy died a few months before Christmas They are an organisation ( charity) especially for bereaved children and may be useful for you outside Christmas time too

Mamma66 Mon 07-Dec-20 10:18:16

Her Dad and Stepmum lost a baby earlier in the year and then in autumn they unexpectedly lost my Granddaughter’s step sister also aged ten. Although the child had health issues it was totally out of the blue and horrendously traumatic for all. DIL can’t bear to live in their family home and is living with her sister, my stepson and his daughter are living alone in the family home, it is all terribly sad. Poor DIL is just a colossal mess (understandably) and the child and my stepson are muddling along as best as they can. I feel so sad for them all...

Coco51 Mon 07-Dec-20 10:49:12

Snakes and ladders, ludo, silly hats, be a child yourself and let her laugh at you. Pictionary is always hilarious in our house.

BusterTank Mon 07-Dec-20 10:53:44

Just organise board and card games for everyone to join in . Maybe give her a few extra Christmas presents . Don't go overboard with to much fuss , she may only be 10 but she would know you are doing it out of pity . Snuggle up with a few good films and chocolates . It's your love she needs and as long as you give her attention and include in everything , everything will be fine .

grandMattie Mon 07-Dec-20 10:54:21

Poor little thing, so much for such a young one. Can you ask her in advance what she would like to do? Then ask for suggestions of what you can provide and prepare for that? Ask her about silly gaes, anythinglike that - even what she'd like to eat, Above all don't make a fuss. Then she would feel more in charge of things and that may help her.

Moggycuddler Mon 07-Dec-20 11:01:01

Good films (comedy etc, be sure that there's nothing with sad stuff going on) and chocs and games. Things to distract her from being sad for a while. Unless she seems to want to talk about the losses and her grief, in which you should let her. Personally I wouldn't go overboard on sentiment and memory boxes etc, unless she seems to want to go in that direction. It may be too raw just yet, especially at Christmas. Take your cues from her. If she wants to be quiet, just let her do that.

Spec1alk Mon 07-Dec-20 11:02:41

Grandmatti you hit the nail on the head. Ask this child what she likes to see/eat/do at Christmas, involve her in the preparations and make time for her special routines at Christmas.

Missingmoominmama Mon 07-Dec-20 11:12:20

Gentle stuff like baking with you. Concentrating on something gives an opportunity to talk without eye contact. Give her gentle warmth.

Whatdayisit Mon 07-Dec-20 11:15:08

If you are into baking maybe you could ask her to help bake with you or get some bun/biscuit decorating things or if you have a specialist craft interest you could introduce her.
Kids need teaching skills and it can give you both some bonding quiet time. Or even some colouring books and a nice set of gel pens.
Be how you have always been they are obviously comfortable with you.
Could you speak to her and ask if there is anything she would like to eat or watch.
Such a sad family situation. My heart goes out to you all.

Lclaytonuk555 Mon 07-Dec-20 11:16:35

I really feel for you but love that you are thinking of her so much. My granddaughter is almost ten and I am trying to think what she likes to do. Maybe a gingerbread house kit that she can decorate with her dad, a book to read so she can dip into it if she wants to be quiet, games like UNO are great, teaching her games of patience, letting her help in the kitchen if she wants to.

vickya Mon 07-Dec-20 11:35:37

I was going to suggest baking and cooking with her too as a comfortable thing to do. Maybe go for something outdoor as well, a walk for you all or a zoo visit? You have to book those. Exercise can make people feel a bit better. Dress up warm. It's FREEZING out there today.

lizzypopbottle Mon 07-Dec-20 12:09:29

Baking can be quite therapeutic and gives opportunities for quiet chat, (initially, perhaps, about likes/dislikes, savoury/sweet) or no chat. Try not to put pressure on her. You could make snacks for Christmas day supper e.g. sausage rolls, cheese straws, mini quiche etc. Obviously, you'd need to stock up in advance.

BlueRuby Mon 07-Dec-20 12:14:45

Lots of people have suffered awfully this year. Will you get a chance to see her before Christmas? How old is she? Maybe a hug and an acknowledgement that it's been a tough year. Then ask her what she would like to do. Quiet christmas? different christmas? getting out for a walk? I think it's too easy not to mention the elephant in the room. Having lost my parents young, and all my siblings in recent years, and various friends along the way, I always raise a glass at Christmas and their birthdays and say how much they are missed, and tell a silly story about one of them. It breaks the ice, allows for a few tears and a giggle, hopefully, and lets us carry on the day. It's a hard call but I think talking about the people who have died is the best choice.

Namsnanny Mon 07-Dec-20 12:17:05


Give Winstons Wish a call my daughter found their advice invaluable when her children’s Daddy died a few months before Christmas They are an organisation ( charity) especially for bereaved children and may be useful for you outside Christmas time too

Such a good suggestion.

What a lot this little girl has to carry.
Well done you mamma66 for thinking if her welfare ahead of Christmas.

Fecklar Mon 07-Dec-20 12:21:04

Just make sure she has stability and is loved and listened to no matter what

Namsnanny Mon 07-Dec-20 12:23:20

BlueBelle my condolences, to your daughter and gchildren♥️flowers.

Gwenisgreat1 Mon 07-Dec-20 12:38:45

I think Coco51 has it in nutshell!

sodapop Mon 07-Dec-20 12:41:02

I had a similar sad issue with my grandchildren. I think its best to keep things on an even keel, have your usual Christmas decorations, traditions etc but don't go over the top with things. Give your granddaughter the opportunity to have some quiet time if she wants and to talk about her sadness. It's very much going along with how she feels at the time. I'm so sorry for your family Mamma66

jaylucy Mon 07-Dec-20 12:53:43

So sad to hear this. Certainly Winston's wish is a good organisation to contact as well as the hospital where the stepsister died.
Compassionate Friends is another organisation for the whole family.
I think that maybe you GD will be feeling a little forgotten amongst all of the grieving and I would certainly try to make this Christmas special and a bit magical for her. Stars are mentioned a lot at Christmas , maybe more than any other time so you perhaps can include the stars of her stepsister and the baby - special decorations for your tree for instance. You could also include her in things such as planting a tree/ shrub /plant in memory to go either in your garden or her own garden or if the Mum hates the idea, maybe a tree elsewhere as there is a push to plant more trees at the moment.
Maybe she could help make a memory box - draw pictures, keep objects that belonged to her stepsister etc.

Sparklefizz Mon 07-Dec-20 13:26:17

So sorry to hear this Mamma66. I can't add anything to the good ideas suggested above, but didn't want to scroll past. flowers and love to you. I am so sorry for your family.