Frightening events widely reported in the media, such as the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, can cause children to worry about themselves and others. It is normal for children to feel unsettled when something scary is happening or has happened, and many will be upset, sad or fearful at times. Children who have been bereaved are likely to show a stronger reaction and may worry that they or someone they know will die.
If you are recently bereaved and have young children, explain to them what has happened in an open and honest way that is appropriate for their age while remaining factual. Use language such as ‘the person has died’ rather than they have ‘gone to sleep’ or ‘passed away’ because these are terms that children can misunderstand and think the person is coming back or going to wake up. Give them time to ask questions and encourage them to tell you how they are feeling. This may be by talking or it may be through play, making pictures or objects. Children will experience the same emotional response as adults, so if their behaviour seems unusual or they don’t seem to be reacting emotionally, they may be feeling a sense of shock or disbelief.
Keep checking in with them about how they are feeling and share with them your own thoughts and feelings. Sharing positive memories can often encourage children to feel safe to talk about the person who has died. The following organisations can support bereaved children during the Covid-19 pandemic:
Child Bereavement UK has information and a video about ways to support bereaved children during difficult times.
Winston’s Wish provides therapeutic support to bereaved children and young people by phone and email, along with online resources and training for professionals. From parents to teachers, everyone and anyone who is supporting a grieving child can call our Freephone National Helpline on 0808 802 0021 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Guy’s Gift offer tailored support for bereaved children and young people aged between 5 and 25 and based in Coventry and Warwickshire. For more information, email email@example.com or call 0845 467 3035. Their telephone line is open every Tuesday afternoon from 12.30pm to 4.30pm and all-day Wednesday and Thursday 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Bereavement support and counselling can help you if you are having difficulty coping with the loss of a loved one. The services listed here can give support and advice to you and your family.
Warwickshire’s Family Information Service (FIS) brokerage service can offer one to one support for families with children up to the age of 25 and support them to access appropriate services where there are barriers, or they have complex needs. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or via FIS helpline 01926 742274.
Looking after your wellbeing is important, and mental health support for children and young people is available:
Rise provides emotional wellbeing and mental health services for children and young people.
The Rise Navigation Hub operates Monday-Friday between 8am to 6pm and is for referrals from professionals working with children and young people up to the age of 17. During COVID-19 they are also excepting referrals from parents/carers. Please call 0300 200 2021.