What is it?
When someone close to the child or young person dies. It may be a relative, carer, neighbour, teacher, friend, or pet.
What could the child/young person feel like?
A mix of emotions such as shock, anger, confusion, anxiety, mourning. A child might also feel responsible for the death of a pet, so they might be feeling anger and shame about this.
What are the worst things we could do?
It’s really harmful to suggest that in some way they were responsible, for example, by asking if they weren’t looking after their pet properly.
It’s important to avoid telling the child to ‘get over it’ or say that at least they have ‘_____’ (another grandparent/pet/sibling, etc)
It’s important to avoid asking the child if they are ‘being helpful and looking after their parent’ or anything which would suggest taking on an adult responsibility of caring for someone who may also be grieving.
What are the most helpful things we can do?
Be empathetic to the child and let them cry or talk about it at their own pace and facilitate play time for the child or young person. Don’t be offended if they don’t want to talk to you.
To be patient with the child or young person as they take the time they need to adjust to the change.
Support the whole family too as it is likely to affect them all.
SUPPORT THE WHOLE FAMILY TOO AS IT IS LIKELY TO AFFECT THEM ALL
Where to find more info or help
Cruse are the leading charity for bereaved people in England, Wales and NI. They offer support, advice to people of all ages, including having a national helpline and freephone specifically for children and young people.
This is a specialist trauma recovery charity set up to enable children and young people aged 3-24 years to have access to specialised trauma therapy. It has five centres in Bath, Bristol, Bradford, Guernsey and Oxford.