Children look to those around them as to how to deal with situations and challenges in life. A bereavement is no different. They will model their behaviour on what they see. If the adults around them cover up their emotions, the children will think they need to do the same. This can lead to ongoing mental health problems for years after their loved one died.

From the age of between 5 and 8 children understand the finality of death. They understand that it is irreversible so being honest is always going to be the best policy. The best thing a family can do is be open. Show your own emotions, therefore letting the child know this is acceptable.

Not only with younger children but those in their teens too. Imagine going through all the usual teenage changes and having grief to contend with too. Teens may be more likely to hide their feelings and put on a brave face. Depending on who has died, they may feel they have to look after other family members and be ‘responsible’.

Children, as with adults, will go through a whole range of emotions. They need to know that this is ok. It’s ok to feel sad; just as much as it’s ok to feel happy. When they go back to school, it’s fine to play with friends and socialise. It’s fine to want to feel normal without feeling guilty. There is no set pattern with grief, and everyone will do it their own way and in their own time.

Both Love Will Never Die (for ages 3-11) and A Mind Full of Grief (for ages 10+) are written in such a way as to open up conversations and allow the child to ask questions. They both explain death in a direct and age appropriate way. They are used by one of the leading child bereavement charities in the UK, as well as schools and funeral directors. You can buy copies directly by clicking on the images to the left, or by emailing for larger orders.

* the above is taken from an article Clare wrote for MuchLoved – you can read the full article here.


For more information about the above statistics, please visit the Childhood Bereavement Network and/or Winston’s Wish.