Bereavement and Death
Losing someone important to you is one of the hardest things to experience in life. If you're young, bereavement can be even more difficult, but support and advice are available.
Nothing prepares us for the loss of a loved one whether it’s a grandparent, parent, friend or a child regardless of their age, losing a loved one and coping with grief can be difficult.
Parents and carers can sometimes feel ill-equipped to know how to manage and are sometimes too distressed to face their children’s distress. The family can often feel sadness, guilt, angry, confused and full of fear and anxiety.
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. Through sharing memories and talking about the person who has passed away, it allows your child to feel they have someone with whom they can talk about that person.
A way to help children through their period of grief could be to, create a memory box. This could include photos, games they use to play together, gifts from the loved one or anything else that helps the child feel connected to the person.
Your child’s school and pastoral care officer can also offer help and support your child through this difficult time.
Handling death and bereavement in children and young people with SEND
As a parent, your natural instinct is to protect your child from difficult and upsetting situations, but death is something we are all impacted by. If you are telling a child about death, it’s important to be honest, and provide them with the facts through their preferred mode(s) of communication.
We are all capable of feeling grief, and this is no different for children and young people with SEND. The effect that grief has on a child with SEND, may not display the same way as a neuro-typical child as it will depend on the nature of the child’s SEND.
The emotions of a child can change in an instant, especially when they are processing the loss of someone close to them. The child might be happily playing or be engaged in an activity, then be angry and challenging for no apparent reason.
Each bereavement is unique, and you can’t tell how long your feelings will last.
Grief is what we feel when somebody we are close to dies and that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grieving is a natural process and most people will cope with help and support from family and friends, talking and sharing your feelings with someone can help.
Bereavement support can give you time and space to talk about your feelings, your relationship, family, work, fears, and the future.
If someone close to you dies, it can be incredibly hard and you may feel your world has crashed around you.
It can make you feel very alone, especially as a young person, because you might find that none of your friends have gone through anything similar and won't understand or know what to say.
Grief can be displayed in many ways, but many people find they feel a mixture of the following:
- shock, particularly if the death was unexpected
- relief, if the death followed a long period of illness
- guilt and regret
- despair and helplessness
These feelings may be very intense, particularly in the early days and weeks. Time eventually helps these intense emotions subside, and there's no need to feel guilty about starting to feel better. It doesn't mean you're not respecting the person's memory or forgetting about them.
If you have lost someone important to you as a result of suicide, you may feel anger, frustration, confusion and intense sadness. Sometimes, those who are grieving a death as a result of suicide feel shame or a sense of guilt for not being able to help.
The effect that suicide can have on people is often known as a ripple effect, as it extends far beyond the individual's immediate family and friends. This will display differently in everyone that’s affected due to the relationship you had with the individual that died, the strength of that relationship and the circumstances around the death of the individual.
Losing someone to suicide that you are not as close to may still affect you, this is because suicide is an emotionally complex and painful experience regardless of your relationship with the person. If you have been affected by suicide, there are people ready and waiting to support you.
Support and Advice Organisations:
- Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) are a source of support for people who have been bereaved by suicide. Visit the website for their helpline, local support groups, and many more practical resources.
- Cruse Bereavement Care provides support and information for people who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Bereavement support agencies can help and offer many different levels and types of support such as:
- Pre Bereavement Care
- Family visits
- One to one counselling
- Young Peoples Support App (11 to 25 years)
- Support groups for adults, teenagers, and children
If you are looking for further support or advice, please contact one of these Bereavement support services.