Quick Links

Useful Links

Wrington Primary School

Supporting Bereavement

This page aims to provide some information and links to support families when bereavement is experienced. Grief is a very personal experience and people, including children, will experience it differently.

 'Most grieving pupils do not need a 'bereavement expert', they need people who care. Schools, just by carrying on with their usual day-to-day activities can do a huge amount to support a grieving pupil..'. Child Bereavement UK 

How do we support bereavement in school?

Within our normal PHSE (Jigsaw) curriculum as well as our collective worship themes, all  children are gently introduced to death and grief, so that children can begin to develop coping skills should they experience bereavement in the future.

Staff across the federation have received specific training in bereavement, with some staff having additional higher level training, such as our Learning Mentors, some specific class teachers  and SENCO.

Every situation of bereavement is unique and all family circumstances will be different.  We seek advice from professional organisations and charities to best support the children in our care and their families. We are also happy to work with professionals already engaged with a family to support their work.

We have a range of resources we use in school, including books for children and other activities used in support sessions. These may be used at the time of the initial bereavement as well as supporting the child in the future.

In addition to supporting a child who has directly experienced the death of someone close, we are also aware of the need to support children in a class where a bereavement has occurred. 

Links to helpful organisations, websites and literature

Child Bereavement UK 

Child Bereavement UK helps families to rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a child dies. "We support children and young people (up to the age of 25) when someone important to them has died or is not expected to live...

...We offer free, confidential bereavement support for individuals, couples, children, young people, and families, by telephone, video or instant messenger, wherever you live in the UK. We also offer face-to-face support from a number of locations."

Winstons Wish

Winston’s Wish is a charity that helps children, teenagers and young adults (up to the age of 25) find their feet when their worlds are turned upside down by grief.

Weston Hospice Care

For palliative care to people with life-limiting illnesses in Weston-super-Mare and northern Somerset completely free of charge.

Tel: 01934 423900

CRUSE bereavement support

A charity in which their volunteers are trained in all types of bereavement and can help you make sense of how you're feeling right now.

Tel: 0808 808 1677

Good Grief Guide

Helping your child deal with loss and bereavement

Helping your child process their feelings

As adults, it’s natural to want to protect children. But what we often don’t realise is that children are much more perceptive and resilient than we’d think - as long as they are told in an appropriate way. So, it’s best to be honest about what has happened as soon as you are able to. Delaying a conversation with them might make it harder for you, as well as for the child.

Accepting loss

You might think that you know your child inside and out, but grief is a powerful thing. It can affect us all in strange and different ways - so try not to show surprise at the way your child processes their feelings, even if they don’t deal with the news as you’d expect.

Children have a limited ability to put their thoughts and feelings into words. Because of this, they might ‘act out’ in their behaviour, rather than express themselves verbally. This can be hard for both of you, but with your patience and guidance, they may gradually be able to express themselves more openly.

How much do I tell them?

There will be many factors that affect their understanding and reaction to what has happened, some of these factors include:

  • the age of the child
  • their relationship with the person that died
  • the general circumstances, or how the person died
  • how the family expresses feelings and communicates
  • how naturally resilient the child is

 

Be mindful of these factors when talking to the child - particularly of their age. The idea of death can be hard to understand, especially for the very young. Explaining things simply, using real words like “dead” might feel uncomfortable for you, but they are easier for a child’s understanding. Euphemisms such as ‘lost’ or ‘gone to sleep’ may seem kinder, but they can be confusing for a child.

Try to only give as much information as the child wants: let them ask you questions. This will prevent you from overloading the child with information they do not want or need yet. You know how much information is appropriate for the child and what they are able to understand. So, trust your gut instinct in this process - it is best to try and be honest, but if there’s something you’re not comfortable telling them, don’t. Information can always be added at a later date if needed.

Experiencing pain

It is important to allow children to process their grief in their own way. Mourning is an important part of the bereavement process. Tell them that it is OK to feel sad and they don’t have to hide how they feel from you.

But bear in mind that children are naturally able to dip in and out of their grief. It’s normal for a child to be intensely sad one minute, and then be playing happily the next. Do not be alarmed if this is the case - this is what is known as ‘puddle-jumping’. This is a coping mechanism which helps prevent the child from being overwhelmed by powerful feelings.

As well as going through lots of different emotions, your child might show physical signs of grief such as bedwetting, nightmares or tummy aches. Your GP can help with these, and can also put you in touch with children's counseling services to help them process their emotions.

Do I let them see me upset?

If your child has just lost an important person in their life, it’s likely that you have, too. You might be trying to help your child process their loss, but you also need to process your own feelings.

Remember, as much as your child is the focus of your life, you need to look after yourself too.

Be mindful of your behaviour in front of your child, but it is by no means necessary to hide your feelings from them. Children learn how to grieve by copying the responses of adults around them - they are relying on you to provide them with what they need to support them in their grief. You might be worried about them seeing you upset, but showing your grief may encourage them to share theirs.

 

What helps grieving young people?

You might think that keeping the child at home, off school and away from the questions of their peers might be the best thing to do. You want to protect them from any more hurt. But sometimes normality and a continued sense of routine is just what they need; stability and security.

They need to know that everything is going to be ok, even if it feels like their world is falling apart right now. Reassurance comes from things that are familiar; regular mealtimes, regular bedtimes and friendly faces around them - their teachers and school friends. This will provide an additional outlet of support, if needed.

As well as familiar places and faces, there is opportunity to introduce specialists who can help with your child’s grief.