How to deal with the school holidays when it’s just you

Sally, a counsellor in our bereavement team, blogs on handling the holidays when it’s just you.

Maybe you’ve lost your mum and she played a significant role in helping over the half term. It could be a close friend who had the kids for Halloween. Or it could be you’re now a single parent when you used to be part of a team.  

The school holidays can be a blessing. They may be a chance to stop, or some respite from change, especially if your children started new schools back in September. Bereavement is a huge change for any child and going to a new school on top of this and adapting to a new environment can really tire them, and you, out.

However, for others it’s not a respite at all, school is a safe consistent structure that makes it possible for the children and you to keep going. A long break such as the 2 week half term this autumn in Brighton can seem very daunting as there is a lot more time and freedom for activities. As a result the loss is experienced even more. This is especially true if you’re trying to balance work, holidays, children, their grief and your own grief when you’ve previously had someone helping you.

I know that a lot of parents will be worried about what’s to come this October so here are a few ideas to help you manage those 2 weeks away from school.

  • Remember children’s grief and adult’s grief are different. This is completely normal. An adult’s grief is much more consistent and always present. Children tend to ‘puddle jump’ dipping in and out of their grief, not because they care or hurt less but because of their development.
  • Spend time together as a family and take the time to understand everyone’s grief. Although it may be quite painful it’s also valuable and important to recognise everyone’s needs and not become isolated in your own grief.
  • Have fun as a family, and be happy. The holidays are a time to have some fun together and it’s absolutely okay to be happy. It’s important for the family to know they you need to have these happy times, even though you’re all grieving. It’s also an opportunity to really remember happy memories and start to make some new ones too.
  • Let other people support you. One thing about the holidays is that it can mean other people are more able to support you, such as grandparents and friends. Accepting help can be beneficial to normalise what’s happened and rebuild the idea that you can still do things you used to do.
  • Take the opportunity to learn some coping methods ready for future, potentially more difficult holidays such as Christmas. It’s good to know whether going for a walk together and sharing memories is a good experience. Equally, if things don’t go as well, such as if one child didn’t enjoy going to the grave of their parent, this is also important. And that’s okay, there’s no need to force them.
  • Reflect on your growth and the emotional journey you are all on from where you are now and how you have managed together to get there.

Holidays can be tiring but try and find time for that relaxation as a family to rejuvenate you for the term ahead and the usual pressures of life alongside the grief which is exhausting.

Our bereavement support team offer support to our patients and their close friends and family throughout their time with us, for as long as they need.

If you or your family need any help and support you can call Martlets on 01273 273400 and ask to speak to the Bereavement Service.