According to the Childhood Bereavement Network, “it’s estimated that in 2015, 23,600 parents died in the UK, leaving dependent children (23,200 in 2014). That’s one parent every 22 minutes”.
I know, right?
It’s important we listen and hold space for grieving children, although this is sometimes easier said than done when we are either grieving ourselves, or panic sets in when they ask awkward questions.
Please know it’s okay if you’re unsure of what to do or say. This isn’t a #parentfail. Instead, think of this as a time when you can be honest and open – even if you don’t have all the answers.
Check out these awesome tips for young people, written by young people (also on the Childhood Bereavement Network website):
⭐ Tell people what helps make me feel better and keeps me feeling safe.
⭐ Ask for support and help whenever I need it.
⭐ Ask questions about what happened. I need the facts to help me understand and talking about it will help.
⭐ Be open with others that sometimes I think I am to blame, even if it doesn’t make sense.
⭐ Remind myself that, like the seasons, things will change.
⭐ Tell an adult if I feel helpless and hopeless about the future. They can talk to me about what might help.
⭐ Think about what ‘I can do’ and then ‘just do it’, rather than thinking ‘if only.’
⭐ Find different ways of expressing my feelings by exercising, writing, listening to or playing music, and carrying on with my interests.
⭐ Find out about groups and support for children or young people who are also coping with loss and change – and go along.
⭐ Remind myself that I am not going crazy. My sleeping, eating, thinking, remembering, concentration and motivation will be up and down.
⭐ Ask for whatever extra help I may need in school. Talk to my teachers about my hopes for the future.
⭐ Tell a trusted adult if anyone is giving me a hard time or hurting me. I will carry on telling adults until things change for the better.
⭐ Ask to be included in planning the funeral and in important decisions that are going to affect me.
⭐ Keep something special that belonged to the person and start a memory box or book to help remember them.
⭐ Do something special on anniversaries that will help me remember and cope with what has happened.
⭐ Talk to the person that has died in my imagination. This may help me say things that I never got the chance to say. It may also help me feel still connected to them in some way as they were a part of my life.
⭐ Look after myself and allow time for sleeping, eating, resting, thinking and relaxing.
⭐ Laugh and have fun without feeling guilty or bad about it. This doesn’t mean that I am ‘over it’, have ‘forgotten’ or ‘couldn’t care’.
The amount of help, support and resources available can be a little overwhelming, so I’ve picked a few categories and sources that I know can be of benefit. With things such as books, it can depend on your parenting style, so check things out before you dive in.
Here’s a list of resources you might find useful:
- Child Bereavement UK
- Child Mind Institute
- Cruse Bereavement Care
- Young Minds
- Baylor University – Grief Interventions for Children with ADHD
- When Children Grieve – John W James & Russell Friedman
- The Elephant in the Room
- Sad Book
Journals and Workbooks
- Child Death Helpline 0800 282 986 | 0808 800 6019
- Child Bereavement UK 0800 02 88840
- The Good Grief Trust