A Thanksgiving Grief Activity for Kids (and grown-ups)

The holidays are tough after a death.  There are no two ways about it.  They are tough for grieving adults.  They are tough for grieving kids.  They are especially tough for grieving adults supporting grieving kids.  We have tons of ideas here for remembering deceased loved ones at the holidays.We have suggestions for creating a practical plan for coping with the holidays.  We have a post on making sense of holiday traditions after a death here.  But today we are focusing on kids specifically.   It can be a tough to let kids know that holidays can still be fun, while acknowledging that it may be an especially tough time when someone important is missing.  One way to do this is to create an arts and crafts activity to do with kids that can be lots of fun, while also remembering the person they have lost.

I saw this great tutorial a while back on making lanterns with kids out of old jars and tissue paper (discovered on pinterest, obviously.  Didn’t know we were on pinterest??  Get over to our page and follow us please and thank you).  I immediately thought it could be adapted into a great grief activity for kids.  Though I am suggesting it here for Thanksgiving, I think it could be easily used any time of year as an activity for grieving kids.

Memory Lantern: A Grief Activity for Kids

Start by letting kids know that they will be making a lanterns to decorate the house or table for Thanksgiving and show them the supplies for the project.   This is a great time to talk about how nice and how much fun the holiday will be, while also talking about how it will be sad that the person who died will not be with them.  Let them know you want these lanterns to be special lanterns, decorated for the holiday but also to share all the good memories of the person who died.

Start by cutting up pieces of tissue and letting kids pick the colors they want.  Cut some into small pieces, but cut at least 3 or 4 large piece – big enough to write or draw on.

grief memory jar

Ask the kids to think of a few memories of the person that died that they are especially grateful for.  Have them either write the memory or draw the memory on the tissue paper.  It is tough to write on tissue with anything but marker, so that is what I recommend.  If your tissue paper is light color you may be able to use crayon or colored pencil, but those have a tendency to tear the tissue paper.

While writing or drawing invite kids to talk about the memories.

Repeat this with several different favorite memories.   Once you have them done, paint a small area of your jar with glue or modge podge (yes, you can use modge podge on glass!).  Cover it with some of the small pieces of tissue.  Repeat until you have the jar covered.

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Brush a light coat of glue or modge podge on top of the tissue and place the large “memory” tissue pieces on top, smoothing them with a clean foam brush.  Be careful not to use too much glue or modge podge, as it could cause the ink to bleed.

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Let the lantern dry and place a real or LED candle inside.

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Alternately, you can fill it with battery-powered string lights.

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Once the holiday is over (or if you are doing this at another time a year) this can become a great night light for your child’s room – a comforting reminder of the person they loved.

Like this activity?  Check out all our other great grief activities for kids here.

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March 28, 2017

2 responses on "A Thanksgiving Grief Activity for Kids (and grown-ups)"

  1. Link to other activities no longer functioning

  2. I love this idea. Hands on. Gets people talking. Great way to preserve priceless memories and bring some smiles- even in a difficult season. Thank you!

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