Nature can help children cope with grief

How nature can help bereaved children to cope with their grief

Being out in nature can help bereaved children and young people in a number of ways. From helping children to process their feelings to helping them understand the concept of death, our team explore some of the ways nature can help grieving children to cope with their grief and suggest some activities to try.

Nature can help improve your mental health

There is strong evidence to show that being out in nature can improve your mental and physical health – it strengthens the immune system and lessens anxiety and depression.

During bereavement, children and young people can experience a great number of emotions, including sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt, fear, denial, disbelief and confusion. Connecting with nature helps our general wellbeing, reducing feelings of anxiety, stress, fear, anger and sadness and helping us to feel more relaxed and peaceful.

Nature can help children understand death

Death can be a difficult concept for children to understand, particularly for younger children. Nature provides a number of representations of death – the falling of leaves, the setting of the sun, the withering of plants and flowers – that can be a simple way to help children understand the concept of death.

Our dead insect activity helps you to show children the difference between insects that are alive and those that are dead. This can then lead on to talking about what it means when a person dies. Click here to download the activity instructions.

Nature can help children to process their emotions

We know that children can often feel isolated during their grief and may feel that nobody really understands how they are feeling. Connecting with nature can help them feel less isolated and can offer a grieving child a real sense of being held and contained by something ‘greater and bigger’ than the loss that they are currently experiencing. The predictable daily, monthly and seasonal cycle – the rising and setting of the sun, the changing seasons – can be something that is reliable and constant at a time when it may feel like everything is changing.

As children and young people experience the ups and downs and uncertainty of their loss and grief, giving them the opportunity to be in nature can provide a much-needed stable base from which they can begin to process and explore their feelings.

Nature can offer opportunities to remember the person who died

Did the person who has died have a place that was special to them? Maybe there was a particular park where they used to walk the dog or a particular bench where they always stopped for a rest or a beach you visited on holiday. Visiting these places can give children and young people the opportunity to remember that person and families the chance to talk about their memories.

There’s something new to see each day in nature and this can make a grieving child or young person very aware of the fact that someone has died and can’t share this with you. Maybe they could take photos or write down the changing seasons and imagine that they were sharing what you see with your important person – is that their favourite flower starting to bloom or is that their favourite bird you’ve just seen?

Some bereaved children like to plant a tree, bulbs or seeds in memory of the person who died. It could be in your garden, a pot or window box.

How to get specialist bereavement support

Our team can offer more advice, information, resources and support to help you support a grieving child or young person. You can call us on 08088 020 021 (8am-8pm, Monday-Friday), email us on or use our online chat.

Our Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger is available 24/7 for urgent support in a crisis. Text WW to 85258.

Publications and resources from Winston's Wish
Publications and resources

Our specialist publications and resources to help parents and professionals to support bereaved children of all ages and circumstances.

Activities for bereaved children
Activities for bereaved children

Download our activities to help grieving children and young people to explore and express their feelings and emotions and to help them maintain memories of the person who has died.