Parents and carers
Supporting a bereaved child can be exhausting and bewildering, particularly if you are grieving yourself. For practical information about the financial and administrative things that need to happen after a death, click here.
Tips from other parents
- Try to talk to your children honestly and explain what has happened in a way that they can understand. They need information and reassurance.
- Try to talk to your children about the funeral. Including them and giving them choices will help them to remember and say goodbye.
- Talk about the person who has died - include your children in remembering.
- How children grieve will depend on their age and their understanding of events.
- Your children's grief may be shown in behaviour, and they may be distraught one minute and playing happily the next.
- Inform the school about your children's loss.
- Trust your instincts as a parent and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
- It's OK for you and your children to feel sad, angry, confused, empty, guilty, anxious and many other emotions - and it's ok if you don't.
Suggestions from young people
A group of bereaved children and young people working with Seasons for Growth (Scotland) have come up with a list of suggestions about how parents and carers could support their bereaved child. Your child may find some of these approaches helpful: you could print them off and talk about which ones might work.
To my parent or carer, please...
- talk to me honestly and explain about what has happened in a way I can understand. I may need more information and reassurance.
- talk to me about the funeral and how I can be included. It will help me to remember and say goodbye. Try to include me in decisions and give me choices.
- inform the school about my loss and find out who I can talk to in school if I need some help. Help me get back into school by talking to me about what additional support I may need. It may be difficult for me to leave home.
- notice if I am feeling lonely and find out about groups for children and young people coping with loss and change.
- remind me that I am not to blame and that it's not my fault although I may need to talk about this.
- Help me keep memories alive by talking and remembering, especially on anniversaries. There will be things I need to remember and others that I want to forget.
- Let me keep something that belonged to...........[the person who has died].
- Give me a hug.
- Help me to have fun and laugh sometimes. This does not mean I am 'over it, have 'forgotten' or 'couldn't care'.
- Give me space but talk to me if you are worried I am not eating properly or having sleep or other problems, so we can do something about it together.
- Arrange for me/us to get extra help if I am feeling stuck and overwhelmed.
Support for you
You may need some support for yourself, as well as for your children. Try Cruse Bereavement Care: their website and freephone national helpline have lots of support for grieving adults.
If you are under 50 and have been bereaved of your husband, wife or partner, you might find it helpful to be in touch with WAY Widowed and Young, a self-help organisation with a range of activities.