Skip to main content

Bereaved of a parent

Supporting children and young people bereaved of a parent

Observing a child’s grief is not easy and adults often try to protect the child by not giving them the full facts. Children will also try to protect the adult by hiding their feelings and appearing to be over their grief long before they are. Adults can help children with their grief by: 

  • Being honest with them - what children don’t know they can imagine, which can be worse than reality.
  • Answering their questions truthfully and ensuring the child knows that they can keep on asking questions.
  • Using language the child can understand and don’t be afraid to use the words ‘dead’ or ‘died’
  • Including them in the planning of the funeral;
  • Explaining what will happen at the funeral 
  • Giving them the choice of whether to attend the funeral
  • Keeping the memory of the dead person ‘alive’ for them by sharing memories and remembering the person on special anniversaries
  • Letting children know that feeling sad is normal when someone has died; 
  • Finding ways to help them to express their feelings; 
  • Keeping routines as normal as possible
  • Reassuring them that there are people to care for them
  • Acknowledging their anxieties; 
  • Keeping open lines of communication between home and school. 
  • Getting help when you need it 

Books you may find helpful

For other book recommendations, please take a look at our booklist.

Other sources of help

WAY - Widowed and Young 

Way provides a social network for young widows, widowers and their children.