Children and bereavement

2 min read

The following information could help if your child has lost a loved one or if a loved one is dying.

If your child has a loved one who's dying

If a child has a loved one who is going to die, they can benefit from special support.

Counselling before the loved one dies

Sarah Smith, bereavement counsellor at London's Trinity Hospice, says: "Hospices offer pre-bereavement care to help patients and their family in the run-up to the end of life. We especially encourage this for children because children's stress levels are at their highest before bereavement because of fear and the unknown."

Pre-bereavement counselling gives the child a chance to think and talk about their feelings and share their worries.

Making a memory box with the child

If you're a parent and you know you're going to die, Sarah suggests thinking about making a memory box to give to your child, or making one together.

This is a box containing things that remind you both of your time together. It can provide an important link between you and your child once you've gone.

If a child has lost a loved one

Talk about the person who has died

During bereavement, it can help a child to talk about the person who has died, whether it was a grandparent, parent, brother, sister or friend.

"Sharing and talking about emotions and about the person is important, especially for children," says Sarah.

"If they've lost a loved one, it's important to have someone with whom they can talk about that person. It could be through photos, games, memory boxes or stories."

There are also bereavement charities that offer helplines, email support, and online communities and message boards for children.

Make a memory box

If the person who has died didn't leave a memory box, Sarah suggests making one with your child.

It can include:

  • gifts
  • shells collected on the beach
  • memories written in a card
  • anything that makes the child feel connected to that person

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.