How would your children cope with a sudden bereavement?

Dealing with death at a young age is something I would never wish on anyone but knowing how to approach it can really make a difference in how children cope. The first thing we did was to have pets from a young age, a dead goldfish is a fairly common occurrence and with it comes the realisation that death exists. Next we had the dead hamster who we held a funeral for in our front garden. The girls still point out his grave occasionally so I think it was the best thing to do. 

However when it comes to the death of a human things will obviously be different. Unfortunately due to everything we have been through with Elizabeth she has already experienced the death of fellow patients. Although she is aware of these deaths we felt that to protect her mental health we would not take her to any of the funerals. This is something I felt very strongly about. As much as I wanted to show my support to their family the realisation that she could also die was too much for me to handle and I worried how that realisation might also affect her.

We are lucky that the girls have not had to experience the loss of a family member yet, my grandparents unfortunately died before they were born and Gaming Daddy of Two’s Nana is still alive and kicking. 

Co-operative funeral care have teamed up with the Child Bereavement, Trauma and Emotional Wellbeing Service (CHUMS) to provide community groups, medical professionals and bereaved families with access to some short animated films that were made to help bereaved children from around the age of 7 cope with their loss and to also help relatives, teachers and other people supporting the child to understand who to help them during their difficult time.

Co-operative funeral care have lots of information their website about dealing with bereavement and especially childhood bereavement. As well as the videos there are also some books available at www.amyandtom.org which are great for explaining death, feelings and letting them know what to expect.

Below are my top three tips on helping your children to cope with childhood bereavement.

1) Talk about death regularly whether it is dead animals or life cycles. Squashed animals by the side of the road or even going past flowers tied to a lamp post. Make death a normal thing so that when they are confronted with it the idea is not such a hard thing to grasp.
 
2) Grieve together as a family. Showing children that it is ok to feel sad and to miss the person who has passed away is really important. Giving them the opportunity to realise other people are feeling the same will help them open up about their own feelings.

3) Talk about the deceased. Sharing memories together is a great way for children to realise that they can remember the dead without always feeling sad. Sharing a memory that produces a smile or a laugh is a huge step in the healing process.

Check out this video from co-operative funeral care which is a short clip of one of their new animated films.