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Children and bereavement

The following information could help if your child has lost a loved one or if a loved one is dying.

If your child has a loved one who's dying

If a child has a loved one who is going to die, they can benefit from special support.

Counselling before the loved one dies

Sarah Smith, bereavement counsellor at London's Trinity Hospice, says: "Hospices offer pre-bereavement care to help patients and their family in the run-up to the end of life.

"We especially encourage this for children because children's stress levels are at their highest before bereavement because of fear and the unknown."

Pre-bereavement counselling gives the child a chance to think and talk about their feelings and share their worries.

If a child has lost a loved one

Talk about the person who has died

During bereavement, it can help a child to talk about the person who has died, whether it was a grandparent, parent, brother, sister or friend.

"Sharing and talking about emotions and about the person is important, especially for children," says Sarah.

"If they have lost a loved one, it's important to have someone with whom they can talk about that person. It could be through photos, games, memory boxes or stories."

There are also bereavement charities that offer helplines, email support, and online communities and message boards for children.

These include:

Make a memory box

Making a memory box with the child

If you're a parent/relative and you know you're going to die, or if you have a sudden deaf of someone in the family, think about making a memory box to give to your child/loved ones, or to make together with your child.

This is a box containing things that remind you both of your time together. It can provide an important link between you or a relative for your child once you've/they have gone.

It can include:

  • gifts
  • photos
  • shells collected on the beach
  • memories written on a card
  • An item of clothing of theirs (This could be made into a cushion which the child can hug for comfort)
  • A perfume/aftershave that reminds you of their smell
  • anything that makes the child feel connected to that person

Article provided by NHS Choices See original on NHS Choices

Macmillan Cancer Support has information about making a memory box.

Further advice and information

Find out more about children and bereavement on the Childhood Bereavement Network.

The MindEd - for families website has useful advice and resources for parents to help a child cope with death and loss, including the loss of pets.

Child Bereavement UK has a range of information sheets about children and bereavement, including how children grieve and children's understanding of death at different ages.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists website also has information and advice about Death in the family – helping children and adolescents cope.

Videos: Gone - coping with death – By Newsround (a bit dated) but it has some really good advice for primary school aged children, told by children who have lost a grandparent, parent or sibling.

Local Support

If your child needs emotional wellbeing support to help them cope, please contact the Suffolk Children and Young People's Emotional Wellbeing Hub to get advice or make a referral.

If you live in Lowestoft and Waveney go to the Just One Norfolk website for mental health support services: www.justonenorfolk.nhs.uk

Also see Bereavement and Young People


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