Skip to main content

Sudden death support

Support for children bereaved through sudden and accidental death

Sudden death, such as the result of a fatal accident, is traumatic for adults, which can affect the support they are able to give to the child. The child can feel very frightened and insecure and the ‘safe haven’ of school and caring adults can play an important part in supporting the child’s grief.  From a school’s perspective, providing a safe and caring environment for children is a fundamental and essential support mechanism, and perhaps the only constant in a child’s life. This is especially important when the child’s world is turned upside down through sudden death or witnessing a traumatic event.

Typical “normal” reactions to an “abnormal” event are:

  • Re-experiencing the event – intrusive thoughts, sounds, smells, flashbacks.
  • Avoiding the experience by not talking to anyone – withdrawal.
  • Heightened anxiety – very sensitive, especially to perceived potential danger.
  • Difficulty in concentrating – leading to irritability.
  • Sleeping problems – child presents as being tired.
  • Separation difficulty – not wanting to be left alone, clingy.
  • Exaggerated fears, producing panic – concerns about anything, belongings etc.
  • Depression – one of the many changes in mood they may experience.

Books you may find helpful

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

Other Sources of help


Sudden is a charitable initiative which supports people after a sudden death when there is little or no time to say goodbye.


Brake is a road safety charity which offers support for anyone who has been affected by the death of someone on the roads.