Supporting Young People Who Have Been Bereaved

Here are just a few ideas to help to support our young people if they lose someone they love, especially in the current difficult circumstances:

  • Talk to the young person. Answer any questions in a straight-forward and gentle way. Ask how they are feeling and whether they want to participate in any planning eg. by offering a favorite memory. Continue to be available for them to talk to you. They may feel like being quiet to protect your feelings, so you might have to keep asking from time to time if they’d like to talk with you.

  • Treat them the same, but expect their feelings to swing from normal to grief feelings and back again. Sometimes they may be laughing and joking; at other times they may be in floods of tears. Check they have somewhere comfortable to retreat to and allow them to take time out.They are processing what it means for them: they may be numb at first and become argumentative and irritable at times later. These are all normal ways of grieving the sadness.

  • Encourage them to communicate their feelings and things they may wish to say (especially if they weren’t able to do so in person) through writing a card or diary, framing a photo, finding a poem, composing/listening to music lyrics, crafting, making a memory box/picture/poem/photo journal, or baking the loved one’s favourite cake/meal. It can even help to talk to the person they’ve lost in their imagination, or with you. Remind them that we carry our loved ones, and the impact they’ve had on our lives, with us into the future. We can still imagine asking them a question and knowing what their answer would be. Young people can sometimes feel bad that they didn’t say or do a particular thing. Remind them that the person they loved knew they were loved, whether or not that thing was said or done. Explore with the young person the evidence that the love was there between them, eg. in happy memories, cuddles, family celebrations, etc.

  • Try to be patient if behaviour, sleep patterns, eating habits or levels of concentration are up and down. This, too, is normal and will adjust over time. Try to stay positive and flexible, especially with expectations of school work.

  • Bear in mind that anniversaries, birthdays and key events can be tricky, especially the first time round. This year it might be a good idea to involve your young person in planning to do something special for the anniversary next year which you weren’t able to do now.

  • Most importantly, look after yourself and each other. Ask what each person needs and try to find a way to fulfil that need.

  • Remember that North Halifax is here to support you all, and that bereavement is something that lots of us have also been through. Please email Mrs Booth or Mrs Lamb, or your child’s form tutor, if you think your son or daughter would like some support.

Useful websites and further information:

Mrs Booth and Mrs Lamb

The Well-being Team