Grief and loss support for children and teenagers

by My Kent Family reporter

Losing someone you love can be heart breaking but when you’re a child feelings of grief and loss can be much harder to process.

Children can wonder if what they’re feeling is right or wrong and they might not understand some of the complex emotions they’re going through. They might feel confused, scared, numb or out of control. They might wonder if they’re ever going to feel ok again.

Childline services manager Wendy Robinson offers some advice:

Wendy Robinson
Wendy Robinson

Losing someone you care about can be extremely tough. When someone's been a part of your life for so long, their death is a big change that occurs very suddenly.

It can take time before you can move on and it's okay to feel however you feel.

But as a parent there are some things you can do to help your child if they’re experiencing a loss.

Talk to someone

Ensure they know they can talk to you and talking won’t upset you even more. Sometimes if a child knows you’re grieving too they can be reluctant to open up but talking about how they’re feeling can really help. If they don’t feel comfortable talking to you remember they can call Childline at any time on 0800 1111.

Express yourself

You can’t predict how your child might feel – they might want to keep their feelings to themselves, or they might find the emotions so overwhelming they have to let them out.

There are lots of ways they can try and express themselves:

· Encourage them to express their feelings with Childline’s online Art Box tool or doing something creative.

· Try releasing anger by screaming into a pillow.

· Why not write a letter to the person who died saying how they feel – they could keep the letter, or destroy it to signify releasing their feelings and letting go.

· Keep a diary.

· Let them know it’s ok to cry.

There’s no right or wrong way to feel during grief and everyone has their own way of dealing with loss.

It can be difficult when people say that you should move on or want you to feel better when you're still grieving.

Let them know you understand how they feel and they can trust you and talk to you. Explain that it’s natural for their emotions to change over time and it’s ok to grieve for someone who passed away a long time ago – it’s ok if they want to keep talking about it.

Encourage children to express how they are feeling
Encourage children to express how they are feeling

Ask questions

It’s natural to be confused or have questions after someone has died. Let your child know they can come to you any time. Asking questions will help them to feel more in control of what’s going on.

Finding the right person to talk to can make things much easier. If they aren’t sure who to speak to, our volunteer counsellors are here 24 hours a day ready to listen and help them no matter what they’re going through.

Get support for yourself

Make sure that you’re getting all the help and support you need too.

It can be harder for children experiencing grief and loss if the adults around them are struggling as well. Cruse Bereavement Care offers a free helpline, staffed by trained bereavement volunteers who offer emotional support to anyone affected by bereavement.

You can contact them on 0808 808 1677 or visit www.cruse.org.uk for more information and advice.

They can speak to them free and in confidence on 0800 1111 or visit www.childine.org for advice and support.

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