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Helping a child or young person with their grief and mental health

Losing someone you love can be really tough, especially for children and young people. When someone they know dies, they might feel confused and overwhelmed by their emotions, and not know how to handle everything that’s going on. This can have a profound impact on their mental health. It’s vital that they receive the support and care that they need. Here are some ways you can support a child or young person with their grief and mental health when someone they know has died:

Listen and be there for them

It’s important to create a safe and supportive environment where children and young people can talk about their feelings without feeling judged or interrupted. Let them know that whatever they’re feeling is normal, whether it’s sadness, anger, confusion, or anything else. Just being there for them can be a big help.

Be honest and explain things clearly

Children and young people need to know what has happened and what to expect. Be honest and clear when talking about their loss. When talking about death and what’s happened, try to use language they can understand. Avoid using confusing or vague terms that may upset them further. Be prepared to answer their questions honestly, even if they’re tough ones.

Encourage them to express their grief

Everyone copes with grief differently. So encourage a child or young person to find healthy ways to express their emotions that feels comfortable to them. They might want to talk to you or another trusted adult, write in a journal, make art, or spend time in nature. Whatever works for them is okay.

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Provide routine and structure

Grief can make everything feel out of control and for children and young people it can feel as if though their world has been turned upside down. Providing a stable routine and structure can help them feel more secure and grounded. Try to keep mealtimes, bedtimes, and other daily activities consistent. This can help them feel like there’s some normalcy in their life during this difficult time.

Seek professional help if needed

If a child or young person is struggling with their mental health due to their grief, it may be necessary to seek professional help for them. This could include talking to a support worker or encouraging them to join a support group. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you feel that a child or young person is not coping well with their grief.

In the end, supporting a child or young person through grief and mental health challenges can be a difficult and emotional journey. But with patience, empathy, and support, you can help them navigate this challenging time, giving them hope for the future. Remember to prioritise their mental health and well-being, and don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it. If you are really concerned about the child or young person’s mental health or worried about their safety, we would advise seeking advice from a GP in the first instance.

Getting professional grief support from Winston’s Wish

Winston’s Wish is a charity that helps children, teenagers and young adults (up to the age of 25) find their feet when their worlds are turned upside down by grief. Through information, on-demand services, bereavement support and counselling, we support young people to understand their feelings, process their grief and find ways to move forward with hope for a brighter future. All of our support is available online, so we can support children and young people across the UK no matter where they live. We also help the adults who are caring for young grieving people including parents, school staff and healthcare professionals.

If you are supporting a child or young person who is struggling with their grief, please call our Freephone Helpline team on 08088 020 021 (8am -8pm, weekdays), email or use our live chat (8am-8pm, weekdays). We are here to help and can provide advice, support, and resources.

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