Ways to support your child following a loss
The best way to support your child(ren) following a loss is to provide affection, comfort and a space to talk about their feelings when they are ready.
They may come to you at odd times of the day, often when you are busy with other tasks. If that happens, assure them that it is ok to talk about things and agree an appropriate time of day to sit properly to talk it through. Try not to leave it too long though.
Younger children may not have the words to express how they are feeling, so try drawing or playing with toys and puppets as a way of exploring emotions and understanding loss.
In the teen years, young people make attempts to move away from relying on parents for support, you may find they don’t talk about their emotions as much as they had done previously. Teenagers may spend more time talking to their friends about how they are feeling, away from parents. They may also search out information on the internet rather than turn to adults for answers to questions.
Do not be afraid to share your own feelings, children learn by modelling the behaviour of adults around them. By letting your own feelings out, you give your child(ren) ‘permission’ to share their own. However, if you feel your emotions are becoming overwhelming we suggest you find support from friends and family, or contact the bereavement team at the hospice to talk about it.
You may find that your children ‘jump’ in and out of their grief, spending time focused on thinking about their loss followed by periods of living their normal life; playing with siblings, watching television, staying active and having fun. This is a completely normal way of children coping with their emotions.
The 565 Service team have collected together useful factsheets and activities to support children, young people and families in bereavement, please find them listed below:
- Talking to children about illness, death and dying
- Ways to remember someone special who has died
- Coping with difficult emotions
- Referrals to 565 Service
- Useful books for helping children and young people cope with grief
- Children and young people bereavement websites
- Self-care for children during isolation
- Book explaining coronavirus