The Minimum Stress Practical Guide to helping your child through bereavement

Last week I told you briefly why there hasn’t been much going on in the Virtually All Sorts camp from a blogging perspective over the past few months. We’ve had the stuffing knocked out of us…

minimum stress practical guide to helping your child through bereavement stress trauma death survive

… but I’m turning my rollercoaster ride into something positive: a series of blog posts to hopefully help others who may be experiencing some of the same events, like a family bereavement.


Yes, unfortunately, we recently had an unexpected family bereavement and all of mine and hubby’s energies have been focussed on keeping life as normal as possible for our little girl (who is now 6).


Yet right at the beginning of this challenging event, we asked ourselves if ‘normal’ is good for our little girl.  At some point, we all have to experience grief.  At some point we all have to experience the rollercoaster of emotions: anger, sadness, shock, exhaustion… and so it starts all over again.

…but not too young, surely?

We asked ourselves: Do we simply tell her that someone has died?  Or do we use phrases like ‘gone to sleep’ or ‘passed away’?

We found the Marie Curie website really helpful and reassuring.  And we approached the subject in a black and white, simplistic, age-appropriate way.  So far it seems to have gone as smoothly as can be expected.  Of course, there have been emotional days when our little girl, “can’t stop,” her crying, to which we’ve told her that it’s her feelings finding their way out of her body and she must let them out by tears if they need to come out.

It’s heart-breaking to see her go through this, heart-breaking to go through it with her but vital that she must go through it, in equal measure.


Next week I’ll talk you through how to cope in a medical emergency… but for now I’d love to hear how you approached this sensitive subject with your little one?

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15 comments to “The Minimum Stress Practical Guide to helping your child through bereavement”
    • Thanks Renee. It’s been tough and it gives me surreal goosebumps to look back on it all now but we got through with a lot of love, patience, listening, tears, reassurance and cuddles…

  1. This is a great post. I was so sorry to hear of your loss. I can remember that Grace was nearly 8 when our cat, Muse died, and even though she had already lost her Nana (she was 4 when that happened) this was the closest she had been to someone that she knew who died. Even now she has days when she has a little cry and still looks out and sees Muses star in the sky. I believe that dying is part of living and I think it is important for children to understand that. This is so important to write about – thank you for sharing. #PoCoLo x

    • Thanks for your kind words Vicky. Grief really is an incredible thing. No matter your age or background, we all experience the same emotions at some point, just at different levels of maturity. Our bodies/brains are pretty amazing in their survival tactics and the processes they go through for us. It’s quite stirring to hear of Grace having emotional moments about Muse. Like you say, it shows she’s a sensitive, caring child. Which shows she’s human. x

  2. So sorry for your loss. I think it’s tricky to know how to help a grieving kid – one minute they are beside themselves and the next minute they are running around playing like nothing happened. Grieving adults are told in counseling that they never go “back to normal” but are told they need to find a “new normal,” and it’s probably similar with children.

    • Thanks Jenny, you’ve described it perfectly there. Something that we’ve definitely realised is to be as black and white as possible and they really do bounce back quite quickly.

  3. That is heartbreaking. We haven’t had a very close member of our friends or family die in recent years although my uncle died last September (JJ had only met him a couple of times) however his reaction to this as well as the death of Topsy & Tim’s granny’s dog Mossy leads me to believe that he is a very sensitive emotional person and I worry that I’ve muddied the waters by telling him various things – versions of heaven mixed up with my own beliefs that we simply return to the earth and continue the cycle. It is hard to stop them becoming a bit morbid and worrying about losing us too – I’m sorry for your loss and I hope your daughter is finding it easier day by day. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout Xx

    • Thanks Sam. You mention about them worrying about losing you too and yes, I think in the immediate following the event, this was real issue for our little. It wasn’t until I mentioned her clingyness to a friend that she pointed out she may be frightened of losing us too and I’d been too wrapped up in my own emotions to see it…

  4. Mmmm, the moment we’ll all have to handle at some point or other. My eldest is the same age as yours. We’ve not had any close family die during her lifetime but I don’t think it will be easy as she is very sensitive (more so than her sister). I shall have a look at the Marie Curie site as forewarned is forearmed. #truthabout

  5. I think the matter of fact approach makes a lot of sense and helps children deal with it and have a healthy attitude towards grief. And tears, I love the explanation – sounds like you’re doing a fab job of preparing your girl for life. Thanks for linking up to #PoCoLo

    • Thanks Steph, it’s such a sensitive subject and I believe that if you don’t approach it in the appropriate way for the age, you’re in danger of doing lasting damage… which hopefully we’re not.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss hun. This post brought a little tear to my eye because I’m very aware this could be a reality for us soon. Thank you for sharing and linking to #PoCoLo

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