Planning for Pain & Family Fun

When planning for the holidays, plan for pain. Plan for grief to join in the family fun.

Plan for the gathering and gifting. Check the lists, hang the stockings, and mail the cards. Then plan what you will do with the holiday grief. Do you have a plan for your pain?

Last year I created The Sadvent Calendar. You can read more about it here but basically The Sadvent features 31 days of self care based actions, reflections, creations, and affirmations that help you count down to a heavy date or get through a tough month. I needed a way to make it through another holiday season without my son Cullin and The Sadvent helped.

The Sadvent Calendar

One of my favorite Sadvent activities from last year was creating a family advent countdown using scrapbook paper, stamps, glue sticks, scissors, and a paper box with 25 drawers that I found at Hobby Lobby.

I spent many holiday-grief-filled hours creating our family advent countdown but I didn’t let the kids help at all. Lines had to be drawn and cut perfectly. The stamps needed just the right amount of pressure applied, and the paper lined up just-so.

I need to control little things in life because I feel out of control with some big things in life. Thanks grief.

Cullin’s Mama

Each drawer was curated with one chocolate per kid and a mini ornament but the tree trinkets became predictable after day three, and the chocolates were eaten before the ornaments were hung.

This year I want our family advent to be less stagnant and more engaging. We need more action, more chocolate, and my kids need to be able to have some ownership in the advent and their own holiday grief.

  • Borrowing from The Sadvent’s use of categories, I created 5; Movie, Outing, Game, Baking, and Creative Grief Crafts.
  • My family needs a 25 day countdown so I thought of 4 holiday movies, 4 games, 4 outings, 4 items for baking, and 4 creative grief activities.
  • My participating children (ages 11 & 4) will get to choose the fifth movie, game, outing, baked good, and healing craft for our family advent.

Day one of the advent, we will create a plan for pain as a family. We’ll make a list of what helps us through the moments when we most miss Cullin. When pain arises during this holiday season, we’ll choose and try our grief relief strategies.

Last year, I needed to take care of myself, but this year my family needs some extra time together. This holiday season we will watch movies, go on fun outings, play games, bake and create, but we will also have a plan for the pain of grief to emerge right in the middle of our fun family time.

What will you do when grief steals your joy of the season? Will you create a self-care advent? Does an engaging family advent sound like something that would help you get through the month? Do you have a plan for pain?

Cullin’s Mama, Ginny

Smashing Grief

When you are so mad that you could break something, do. Then take those broken pieces and turn them into something beautiful.

Cullin’s Mama

My toddler was not upset, in fact Raylun was full of delight when he reared back, swung forward, and whacked the ball. Well, it was spherical like a ball but it was actually an ornament.

It was as very special ornament, fragile and hand painted, one of his big brother Cullin‘s personalized memorial ornaments. Raylun couldn’t help but swing at it; the sparkle attracted his eye like a lure and it hung down at the perfect height. How could he not take a swing?

I didn’t get mad, though my mouth stayed open from shock for an extended amount of time, rather I scooped up the pieces, took some photos of the shards, and stuffed them into a new, less fragile shell. I tied on a bow and stuck it back on Cullin’s memorial tree, hanging it a little higher where it will be safe from his brother.

Have you heard about our Ornamental Release ornament smash challenge and creative grief activity? Apparently smashing ornaments runs in our family but this year I won’t have to smash because Raylun already did it for me! Read more about Ornamental Release on Babble.