Adults bereaved as children

In the course of our work, we have met many adults who were bereaved as children and received little or no support. They talk to us about how their grief affected their childhoods and how it continues to impact on their lives into adulthood.

Adults who were bereaved as children

Adults with unresolved childhood grief

We understand the impact that unresolved grief can have on adults who were bereaved as a child. We know that there are millions of adults whose stories of loss are untold, unheard – whose grief stays silent inside.

Adults who were bereaved as children

Join our community

Through our work with bereaved children, we know how valuable it is to meet others with similar experiences. For many adults who were bereaved as children, they will have rarely met a person who truly understands what they are going through.

One of our aims is to bring these people together, and that’s why we’ve created an exclusive Facebook community for them to meet others who understand their grief.

Voices of adults who were bereaved as children

Our recent report, ‘Voices of adults bereaved as children‘, gathers the experiences of adults who lost parents or siblings as children and reinforces the message that meaningful support is important at this time.

Adults who were bereaved as children

Bereavement is a fundamental human experience

Bereavement means ‘to leave desolate or alone through death’, with grief meaning ‘deep and intense sorrow’. Sorrow, anguish, and solitude are particularly toxic for children and young people.

But they are the ‘forgotten mourners’ today where death is the great taboo subject. None should doubt the challenge – a child loses a parent through death every 22 minutes; 1 in 29 are bereaved of a parent, brother or sister; over 252,000 5-16-year-olds are affected in England alone; 78% of 11-16-year-olds experience at least one of their close relatives or friends dying.

The death of someone close affects their emotional, spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing, sometimes with major consequences throughout life.

Children, young people and their families know what they want, and how specialist childhood bereavement services can give benefit.

They need information and education on what death means; encouragement to talk about how they feel, to understand and express their grief; meet others and share experiences, with opportunities to remember and access to support. Despite this, support is patchy nationwide with countless children and families unable to access it when they need it.

The enormity of unresolved grief in adults bereaved as children has also been exposed, with people in their 80s and 90s reporting how they had never come to terms with the loss of a loved one.

Bereavement is a fundamental human experience, and it’s time we realized that children and young people are all too frequently exposed, unsupported, to the impact of grief.

Are we doing the best we can for them, and if not what should be done?

Sir Al Aynsley-Green

What adults bereaved as children say


Panel discussion: The long-term impact of childhood bereavement

Panellists are: Kate Silverton, David Scotland, Sir Al Aynsley-Green, Winston’s Wish Young Ambassador, Zoe, Colleen Mclaughlin

Catherine Wilson performs My Sister