Children and bereavement

The following information could help if your child has lost a loved one or if a loved one is dying.

If your child has a loved one who's dying

Watch a video about the death of a sibling

If a child has a loved one who is going to die, they can benefit from special support.

Sarah Smith, bereavement counsellor at London's Trinity Hospice, says: “Hospices offer pre-bereavement care to help patients and their family in the run-up to the end of life. We especially encourage this for children because children’s stress levels are at their highest before bereavement because of fear and the unknown.”

Pre-bereavement care gives the child a chance to think and talk about their feelings, and to share their worries.

If you're a parent and you know you're going to die, Sarah suggests thinking about making a memory box to give to your child, or making one together. This is a box containing things that remind you both of your time together. It can provide an important link between you and your child once you've gone.

If a child has lost a loved one

Cruse Bereavement Care helpline: 0844 477 9400

During bereavement, it can help a child to talk about the person who has died, whether it was a grandparent, parent, brother, sister or friend. “Sharing and talking about emotions and about the person is important, especially for children,” says Sarah. “If they have lost a loved one, it’s important to have someone with whom they can talk about that person. It could be through photos, games, memory boxes or stories.”

If the person who has died didn’t leave a memory box, Sarah suggests making one with your child. It can include gifts, shells collected on the beach, memories written on a card or anything that makes the child feel connected to that person.

You can find out more about children and bereavement on the Childhood Bereavement Network.

The Cruse Bereavement Care helpline is on 0844 477 9400.

Video: death of a sibling

Benny, aged 12, accidentally killed himself in 2007. His brothers and sister – Joe, Jacob, Eddie and Anna – talk about how they've coped with his death.

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Page last reviewed: 03/07/2014

Next review due: 28/02/2017


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Siblings and bereavement

Advice on how siblings might be affected by the death of a brother or sister, including where to go for support.

Bereavement and young people

Advice and support to help you get through the loss of someone important to you

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A bereavement counsellor explains what bereavement is, how to cope and where to go for help and support