Advice for Parents/Guardians:
Here are some ideas & advice from other parents & young people about how you can practically support your child/young person after the death of a loved one.
When talking about death, be direct - Avoid the use of euphemisms for death and dying. These are often used to protect children/YP but instead can cause more harm and confusion, especially for younger children who may not understand that death is final. Euphemisms can be words such as: passed/slipped away, fell asleep and at peace now. It’s important to use concrete words like died/dead, especially to younger children. Explain that the person can’t be cold or afraid of the dark etc.
Try to keep your child’s routine as normal as possible - Try and keep your child/YP’s routine as normal as possible. This will reduce feelings of anxiety.
Tell your child what to expect - This could include what to expect at the funeral or at a wake/funeral parlour. Answer any of their questions open and honestly, this will benefit them in years to come.
Be prepared for special days - like birthdays, Christmas & anniversaries of their loved one’s death. Be aware that the lead up to these events can sometimes be harder than the actual day itself.
Keep their school informed - This is important so the school can be aware of the possible for time off. More importantly, so that they can understand of possible behavioural changes and signs to look out for.
Give your child time to heal - Don’t rush the grieving process, your chid/YP will grieve at their own pace. Cruse support can help them to do this in a safe way.
Just listen - This can be so empowering for your child/YP. It is such a simple way to offer support but can be so comforting for you child/YP to know they have someone who will listen to them when it is needed most.
Get practical support - 1 in 3 children will need professional support after a bereavement. At Cruse, we offer free face to face counselling sessions for both children & adults which last for 1 hour for around 6-8 weeks.
Don’t avoid what has happened - encourage their own expression of feelings. No two people will grieve in the same way no matter what age/gender/race they are. It is important that your child/YP understands that this is ok, so they feel comfortable to express how they are feeling. Reassure them that the death of their loved one wasn’t their fault. Be honest about the cause of death no matter how daunting this may seem. (see Winston’s Wish “Beyond the Rough Rock” for guidance on dealing with suicide bereavement)
Remember together - Sharing feelings together is so important. It reassures your child/YP that what they are feeling is totally normal and that they are not alone. Remembering together can be done in the form of making a scrapbook filled with memories. It can also be done by making a memory box to hold mementos of the person who died.
Don’t forget to look after yourself! -The more you look after your own health & well-being, the more prepared you will be to look after your child/YP’s. Be aware of your own grief & let them see your good and bad days, don't be afraid to cry with your child. Be honest about your personal feelings and your child/YP will be more likely to share theirs.
For more information about supporting bereaved children, click here
Or visit here for tips to help your children with bereavement
If you would like to set up counselling sessions for your child/YP, you can find your nearest Cruse office here:
You can also call our freephone helpline on: 0808 808 1677.
Or, If you would like to get more personal advice, you can email our National Helpline on the following email:email@example.com