Children’s Grief Awareness Week is designed to help us all become more aware of the needs of grieving children – and of how important it is to have the support of others.

Our Counselling and Sibling Support teams are experts in providing support and understanding at the most difficult of times. With Covid-19 adding to feelings of isolation in bereavement, their work has never been more important.

Here they share their thoughts and suggestions. We hope you find them useful.

Jane Gibbins, Counselling Team Leader

Children often tell us they feel isolated during their grief experience. They usually don’t know another bereaved child their age, and feel alone and confused by the range of emotions they experience.   

It can be helpful to know that they are not alone, especially during these times when access to friends and wider family is restricted due to Covid-19.Feeling alone through loss affects bereaved children’s behaviour, mental health, learning and relationships. 

Hearing about how other children have dealt with their grief can help reduce the stigma of death and can help them to feel less isolated. Help 2 Make Sense is an online tool by Winston’s Wish, a charity supporting bereaved children and young people. It aims to help young people who have experienced the death of a loved one come to terms with their loss.

Mary Leighton and Brian Plimbley, Sibling Support workers

On the trips we organised we would see young people share their feelings and experiences with each other. Often they didn’t realise that others were in a similar situation until they talked, but it was very clear to see the connections that they were making once they felt part of a group.

We are very aware that in these unprecedented times our support is very different to normal. We can’t get together in person so we are encouraging young people to engage with us virtually online. Initially they were reluctant to communicate this way, but as time has gone on, and the sense of isolation has increased, they are beginning to use this forum. Those who have used it are finding it very helpful.

Yvonne Stocks, Family Counsellor

I recognise it can sometimes be really difficult for bereaved children to articulate their feelings as they may not have the language. Sometimes, even if they do, they have a sense that adults may not want them to talk about or show their feelings. Isolation can be a common feeling in a child living with a traumatic experience such as a sudden death. 

Suzanne Ellis, Counsellor

Research shows that children and young people bereaved through suicide may experience even more isolation than with other bereavements.  

A study was carried out in 2016 into children and young people bereaved through suicide. It found that the stigma and shame surrounding death by suicide often perpetuates feelings of loneliness and isolation. Children and young people were more shut down and harder to reach, which made their grieving process more challenging and difficult.  

Vida Kennedy, Counsellor

When a family member dies by suicide, young people feel very isolated. These thoughts have all been shared with me:

  • “People avoid mentioning my brother and it feels like they are avoiding talking about him or recognising that he ever existed. The discomfort they feel is painted all over their faces. I feel alone in wanting to remember him.” 

    • “I’m afraid to bring her up, in-case I upset someone, so I just keep it to myself.”  

      • “He was my best friend, we talked about everything together. Now I have nobody to talk to, I feel so alone.” 

        • “I just want a chance to talk about her, recalling memories of fun times and what we did together, how I miss her and wish she was here.”

        Young people who have been bereaved by suicide often carry a lot of guilt, so it is important to offer the opportunity to explore these feelings and support the young person to recognise that they are not to blame.

        Hope House Children’s Hospices offer counselling and bereavement support to children and families living in Shropshire, Cheshire, Mid and North Wales who have been affected by the death of a baby, child or young person up to the age of 25 years when they died. Our service is free and confidential. For more information please email [email protected]