How to help your kids cope with holiday ritual loss amid COVID-19

For so many, this year has felt like a long haul with no end in sight. A global pandemic, racial injustice and economic insecurity have all contributed to surging rates of mental illness in families across our community. Children, like all of us, have experienced so much loss and uncertainty, evidence of which I see every day in my work with children and families.

The holidays often bring feelings of joy and excitement; while for others, the holidays can be filled with stress and dread, as we navigate difficult relationships within our families, pressures to spend even when facing financial hardship, managing the expectations of many or facing the loss of a loved one — a painful reminder of the empty seat at our holiday table.

Families are hurting and wondering how they will get through the holidays this year given such uncertainty. As parents and caring adults, we strive so hard to shield children from distress and despair and wonder how we can maintain the spirit and magic of our much-loved rituals and traditions when it seems we may not be able to celebrate as we have in years past.

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