Winter family fun

Planning Spring Break While Grieving

Children may long for the month of March, knowing they will get to enjoy a week off from school, that special time known as spring break.  Spring break may be deemed a necessary reset to give school children and faculty the stamina to complete the school year, a time to enjoy the changing weather, or a time to make plans and take trips with family and friends to have a “mental break.”  Though this time could be a hiatus from reality, it could also create unnecessary pressure to plan events and activities to fill the week.  This pressure to please a child may feel especially apparent, for many reasons, to those who are grieving.  The downtime away from routines, school, and extracurriculars may cause grief to feel more raw or more difficult to process due to lack of structure and distractions during the break.  This added pressure can fall onto caregivers to plan activities to fill the weeklong break for enjoyment.   

With spring break either on the horizon or in full swing, it is important to think about what you and your family need from this weeklong break. Do you need time to decompress and explore your local city, do you need to unplug completely and change the scenery with a trip, do you need to surround yourself with people your family can rely on and trust with your grief?  Deciding what to do can be difficult as well assessing what your needs are when the week does come.  Some helpful things to keep in mind are: 

  • Keep your children in mind during the planning process.  They may have strong feelings about what activities and options are available to them for spring break while supporting their feelings and needs. 
  • If you have multiple children, don’t assume they will pick the same options for spring break.  Children grieve differently and have different needs throughout their grief journey.  Weigh out what each child is thinking and feeling to create choices as a family. 
  • Spring break doesn’t have to be a lavish planned trip.  After the death of a loved one, many things can change, including financials.  Keep in mind that there are still fun options to do as a family that are low cost or free.  The main objective is making memories, not the price tag of the excursion.   
  • Every moment of every day doesn’t have to be filled with activities. Some families feel they must do certain things, but keep in mind the importance of considering what would be the best for your family now versus what others tell you to do.  
  • Spring break can include remembering loved ones who died or it can be a new experience.  Grief feelings happen every day, even if the intensity changes moment to moment.  Activities and events can be planned in honor of a loved one and what that person enjoyed, it can be a new experience, or it can include both. 

No matter what you choose to do for spring break this year or in the years to come, listen to yourself and your child to choose what feels the most right this year.  Not every spring break has to mirror the last to create memorable and lasting moments as a family. 

Jade Stoner M.S., LPC, LCDC

Jade Stoner M.S., LPC, LCDC

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