Advice for Parents/Guardians:
Below includes advice on 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.
Try to keep to a routine - Try and keep your child/YP’s routine as normal as possible. This will reduce feelings of anxiousness.
Tell your child what to expect - This could include what to expect at the funeral or even what to expect if they are taken to go and see the body of their loved one once they have died. Answer any of their questions open and honestly, this will benefit them in years to come.
Be prepared for special days - This can include birthdays, Christmas the anniversary of their loved ones 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 that the school can be aware of the possibility for time off. More importantly, so that they can be aware and understanding 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. Professional 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 that 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 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 meaning that they will feel comfortable to express how they are feeling. Reassure your child/YP that the death of their loved one wasn’t their fault. Be honest about their cause of death no matter how daunting this may seem.
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 in feeling this way. 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 including pictures or letters written to the person who has died.
Don’t forget to look after yourself! - This is something not to be forgotten about. 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. Be honest about your personal feelings and your child/YP will be more likely to share theirs.
If you would like to set up counselling sessions for your child/YP, you can find your nearest Cruse office here: http://www.cruse.org.uk/cruse-areas-and-branches.
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:firstname.lastname@example.org