Talking to children and young people about death and grief

14 September 2022

The sea of floral tributes being left for Her Majesty the Queen continues to grow, it’s been moving to see people visiting royal palaces, wanting to make their own personal gesture of thanks and respect. Amongst them I’ve been struck by how many families, children and young people feel compelled to come and be a part of this significant moment of national grief. They are all too aware of the loss being experienced, needing to express their own feelings of sadness in the midst of wider events.

Being included and participating in moments of grief such as this, is so important for children and young people. Having the opportunity to ask questions, share how they feel and voice their wonder about the place of God and faith, life and death, is crucial. For adults one of the best things we can do is make space for the conversations, not feeling we need to have all the answers but just making time to be open to talking about it. When my brother died a number of years ago, I knew our two young sons needed room to express their grief at losing their uncle. These chats often happened at unexpected moments (parents can’t plan these things!) but were always helpful and gave all of us moments to remember him.

Besides these conversations, it can be useful to learn more about how children and young people experience grief and bereavement – there are some excellent resources from Cruse Bereavement Support on this.  If you’d like some help in having these conversations, Action for Children offer some sound advice too, especially around the kind of language it’s best to use. For children and young people themselves, take a look at Hope Again, the youth website of Cruse, which offers a listening ear, and a safe place to learn from other young people so they feel less alone. Finally, the Children, Youth and Family team have created two group sessions on the topic of naming loss and celebrating milestones which will be useful to anyone working alongside children and young people at this time.

Gail Adcock, Family Ministries Development Officer

Further resources and information