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For a child, the world in many ways is still relatively unknown. Experiencing the realities of the death of a loved one, and encountering grief for the first time, can make their world even more confusing. Add to this a family unit in its own state of grief and distress, this can become an unsettling time in a child’s life.

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 yourself, as well as for the child.


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 

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. 

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

The idea of death can be hard to understand, especially for the very young. 

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.


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, then be playing happily the next. This is a coping mechanism which helps prevent the child from being overwhelmed by powerful feelings.

How can Counselling help:


Many children find comfort and understanding following the death of a loved one by attending grief/bereavement counselling .  This gives the child the chance to express their emotions in a safe environment that is an alternative to their own homes. Many children find it easier to open up in a neutral environment, or away  from relatives if they believe that they might upset them by discussing their feelings. I can help your child work through their grief, please call or email me for an informal chat on how counselling can help your child.

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