Following a bereavement our emotions can feel difficult to control or express and our reactions can be unpredictable. Our lives can feel as though they are turned upside down, there can be a lot of change and our every-day routines feel disrupted or even abandoned altogether.
With so much going on many of us can worry that our reactions are not normal. This is even more the case when we have children and young people to care for too. We feel powerless to help them.
Even though grief is unique to each person many reactions are common to all bereaved people - they are the signs that tell us and others that we are grieving.
When someone dies we can be totally unprepared to know how to best help our children and young people. This is a very distressing time and our natural desire is to try to protect them from unnecessary suffering. Although we mean well, this can sometimes cause greater difficulties later. These pages will give you information to help you understand how grief affects them and how you can help.
Of course, every child and every family is different, but these are some things that can help guide you as you speak to your child about their grief.
What do we tell the children?
Whatever our age, bereavement can be a confusing and frightening time.
What can help children and young people to grieve well?
Keep it simple
Stick to simple, clear and age- appropriate explanations and answers to their questions - only answer the question they ask.
Be honest about what has happened and what will happen next
Help them understand
Particularly to understand the grieving rituals such as funerals and memorials
Behaviour may change or be challenging. Remember, everybody grieves differently and at their own pace.
Let them know it's ok to express their emotions. Let them know their feelings will change over time.
Familiar routines can help a child to feel safe and secure, particularly if there is a lot of change going on around them.
Help them to find ways to remember the person who died.