How to support a child who is grieving

How to support a child who is grieving

If you were also close to the person your child is grieving for, then it’s important that you are supported as well as them. Read about how to look after yourself when you’re grieving – you need to be OK for yourself before you can be OK for others.

Here are some ways to look after your child when they are grieving:

Encourage them to talk
Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and make sure you do the same. Avoid putting on a brave face as your child will feel that they need to do this too and then you’ll be unable to tell how they are coping. If you think they are hiding their feelings to protect you, let them know that they don’t need to do this.

Talk about the person
It’s also important to encourage your child to talk about the person who has passed away. You can talk together about good memories to remember them. Encourage them to ask any questions they have too and be open with them.

Help them let out emotions
Tell them it’s OK to cry and that it actually helps let out the sadness. If they are angry, help them to release it in a safe way, including hitting cushions, exercising, shouting (somewhere it’s appropriate to do so) and doing messy paintings or drawings. You could also create a zone where your child can go to let out their emotions, which could include familiar toys or other items that help them feel better.

Make sure your child knows that they are not to blame and that it’s normal to feel different emotions when someone has passed away. Show them and let them know you are always there for them, as well as any other family members they are close to.

Stick to normal routines
As much as possible, stick to your normal routines. Your child may feel like their world has been turned upside down after losing someone, so sticking to their routines as much as possible will help them feel safe. Change is hard enough for children as it is, so helping them feel a sense of normality will help.

Allow them to decide
Allow them to decide when they return to school and whether or not they go to the funeral. If they aren’t comfortable with going to the funeral, it’s important to respect their feelings.

Be aware children pick up on tension
Your child may pick up on sadness and tension in yourself or others, which is something to be aware of. That doesn’t mean you should hide your emotions, but be aware they may mirror your behaviour (or the behaviour of others). Children of all ages may become unsettled or clingy and even babies can sense something is wrong so may cry more.

Look after their mental health
You can find more information about how to look after your child’s mental health in our blog post.

Get in touch
We’re here for automotive industry people and their family dependents so if you or your child are affected by grief, contact us to find out what support you can access via our helpline on 08081 311 333 or chat with us online. Otherwise, you can contact Child Bereavement UK for support.