Whether sudden or expected, few life events have a greater impact on children and their families than the death of a family member or close friend. Children’s grief is often an emotional rollercoaster. Every family makes sense of and copes with grief in their own way.
However there are some important elements to remember:
- Grief is normal, is not an illness or something to simply ‘get over’
- Children are affected by bereavement in different ways, some may be sad or withdrawn, others may be angry or challenging, or may not show any signs
- Grief is an ongoing process which children and young people revisit as they grow up
- Children need the help of supportive adults to learn to live with the death of a loved one
Given the right support and information children and young people can be helped to understand what has happened and adapt to a life without their loved one. It is important to ensure that all bereaved families have the support they need when they feel the time is right.
There are various forms of support available including:
- Information and education to ensure children and their families understand death and what it means to them
- Support to empower families/carers to access information to meet their individual needs
- Educational settings can offer some support to children and young people and ensure that their specific needs are met within the learning environment
- Help for families to find ways of remembering the person that has died
- Encouragement for families to talk openly about their loss and grief and their memories
- Opportunities to meet other children and families with similar experiences
- Access to specialist support services when needed
In Norfolk, support to children and young people can be offered by the bereavement charity Nelsons Journey.
For children and young people who are experiencing mental health problems following bereavement please contact Point 1.
Children and young people with an adult family member with a life-limiting illness can access support via the psychological service for specialist palliative care.
East Anglian Children’s Hospice (EACH) offers support for families where a child has a life-threatening or life-limiting condition.
Support for adults is available via Cruse.
For further information you could try the following websites:
Helping you to support bereaved children and young people is an information leaflet for anyone supporting bereaved children and young people.
For further information contact our Customer Service Centre. If you are a school or Early Years Setting, advice is available from the Critical Incident Lead Officer (EPSS).