Parents and Carers
Supporting a child or young person through grief can be a difficult task, especially if you too have been bereaved. Adults may try to protect children from their grief and the painful feelings that they will experience, in the hope that this will somehow protect them from the sadness and pain that bereavement brings. However, the opposite of this usually happens. Children and young people will find out what has happened and instead of being protected from the truth, they are often left feeling excluded and hurt. They may feel confused and alone with their overwhelming feelings and unanswered questions. Sometimes, their own ideas about events that have happened may be more frightening to them than the truth.
Children who have experienced bereavement have said that being involved and included were two of the most important issues for them. Nothing can take away the painful feelings, but they can have understanding and support.
In the same way as adults, children grieve differently to each other. A number of factors can affect their grieving, including things like their age and understanding or the relationship they had with the person who died. They may react to the death differently at different times, with their emotions ‘jumping’ from being very sad and distressed, to seeming not to care or be upset at all. Their concentration may be affected and they may start to behave like a younger child. At school, they may rebel and not want to do their work, or you may notice that they are very focused on their school work.
Supporting a child or young person at this time and dealing with these issues may be overwhelming - trying to explain what has happened in a way that they will understand, trying to answer their questions (some of which we won’t know the answer to) and then trying to cope with and work out their behavior.
The Saying Goodbye Project can support you and your child at this time. We are able to give you advice and information about concerns that you may have and can support your child on a one-to-one basis. Serious problems later in life can be prevented by helping a child through bereavement.
You can also access one-to-one support for yourself or any adult members of your family at Kingston Bereavement Service if you live, work or study in the Borough of Kingston, and Cruse Bereavement Care have many local branches offering similar support.
Click here to view resources that you may find helpful.
Find out how children respond to bereavement
Click here to read information about funerals.