How to help a grieving child through Christmas

December 2023

Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time when someone important has died. Our friends at Winston’s Wish have provided us with these tips to help bereaved parents cope with Christmas.

Whether your child is recently bereaved or has been grieving for some time, Christmas can reignite all sorts of feelings and emotions. Happy memories of Christmases gone by and the absence of loved ones from the festive celebrations can be difficult. At what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, children and young people can often feel confused and conflicted.

Here are some ways to support a child in your life who is grieving over Christmas.

  1. Remember everyone reacts to grief differently. Some children may be upset, whilst others are super excited to start the festivities. There is no right or wrong way to feel when it comes to being bereaved at Christmas. 

  2. With that in mind, give children (and yourself) permission to look forward to and enjoy Christmas, to smile and have fun. Having fun and enjoying the festivities doesn’t mean you love your person any less.

  3. Make space to remember that someone is missing. It’s natural to miss someone who you hoped would be around the Christmas dinner table. Why not try to find ways to remember and include them in your festivities? It might be honouring family traditions, helping your child write a Christmas card for their person or visiting somewhere that holds special memories. 

  4. Talk as a family about how you are all feeling about Christmas. Whether you’re feeling good, bad or not feeling anything at all, it’s important to let each other know where you’re at. If you’re struggling to start a conversation, the Winston’s Wish bereavement team can support and guide you. 

  5. Be kind to yourself. Supporting a bereaved child is hard, it’s even harder when you’re also dealing with your own grief. If things become too much, find a way to take time out. Call a friend or take a walk. It’s good to make plans but remember to also give yourself permission to change your mind. 

The most important thing to do is talk together as a family. Involve your children, include them in discussions and don’t assume that you know what they want to do. It’s OK to ask them how they want to mark Christmas this year and together you can build a plan that’s sensitive to everybody’s needs. 

How to get grief support

Winston’s Wish helps children and young people find their feet after their worlds are turned upside down by grief. As well as providing direct support to young people, our bereavement workers also offer guidance to adults supporting young bereaved family members. 

You can reach us on:

  • Freephone Helpline 08088 020 021 – lines open 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday. 

  • Email 

  • Live chat via our website (open 3-8pm, Monday to Friday). 

In a crisis text the 24/7 Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger – Text WW to 85258.

Activities, resources and guides are also available at