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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

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

A child's stress level is often at its highest before bereavement because of fear and the unknown.

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

Making a memory box

If you're a parent and you know you're going to die, you could make a memory box to give to your child or make one together.

A memory box contains things that remind you both of your time together. It can provide an important link between you and your child once you've gone.

Macmillan Cancer Support has information about making a memory box.

If a child has lost a loved one

Talk about the person who has died

During bereavement, it can help a child to talk about the person who's died, whether it was a grandparent, parent, brother, sister or friend.

It's important for them to have someone with whom they can talk about that person and share their emotions. This could be through photos, games, memory boxes or stories.

There are also bereavement charities that offer helplines, email support, and online communities and message boards for children.

These include:

You can also find out more about children and bereavement from the Childhood Bereavement Network

Make a memory box

If the person who's died did not leave a memory box, you could make one with your child.

It can include:

  • gifts
  • shells collected on the beach
  • memories written on a card
  • anything that makes the child feel connected to that person

Page last reviewed: 15 January 2020
Next review due: 15 January 2023