Sudden or accidental death – bereavement support

We provide bereavement support for children, young people and families after someone has died suddenly or in an accident.

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Support for children and families dealing with a sudden death

When someone dies, feelings of grief can be overwhelming. These feelings may be even more difficult to handle if the death is sudden or unexpected, for example a car accident, a heart attack, or other illness or accident. Children and young people may feel shock, disbelief, anger or guilt after someone dies suddenly. They may also experience symptoms of trauma, such as nightmares, flashbacks, trouble sleeping, stomach aches and headaches. Children and young people may need extra support to help them cope with their grief.

Winston’s Wish offers bereavement support for children, young people (up to 25) and families when someone important dies suddenly or unexpectedly. Below is information, guidance and resources on how to talk to children about a sudden death and support them when their mum, dad, brother, sister or other important person has died suddenly.

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Supporting children after a sudden death

When someone dies suddenly or unexpectedly it can be difficult to take in and make sense of what has happened. Children and young people may feel shock, disbelief or numbness, especially if they do not know or understand how that person died. It’s important to give them the facts so they can understand what has happened, rather than overhear or make up their own story. It’s also important to be there to listen to them and let them ask questions. When someone dies suddenly there is no chance to say goodbye. Attending a funeral, memorial service or other ritual or finding an alternative way to say goodbye can help children begin to accept and understand what has happened.

How to get bereavement support

Winston’s Wish offers bespoke individual bereavement support to children, young people (up to 25) and families. Our experienced Helpline team can also provide immediate guidance, advice, resources and support to bereaved families and the professionals supporting them. Find out more about the support we offer by clicking the button below or contact us:

Helpline support

Advice and resources from our team

Tell child someone has died
Telling a child someone has died

Our guidance on how to tell a child someone important has died suddenly.

Traumatic death support for children
Supporting children after a sudden death

Feelings children and young people might experience after a sudden death and how you can support them.

Talking about sudden death
Talking about sudden death

Advice on talking about a sudden and unexpected death with children and young people and ways you can support them.

A Child's Grief book cover
A Child’s Grief book

Our specialist book offers practical advice and activities for families suddenly bereaved.

Explaining accidental death to children
How to explain accidental death to a child

Advice on how to explain an that someone died in an accident and how children might react.

Still from animation on traumatic bereavement
Traumatic bereavement resources for professionals

A comprehensive written guide with supporting tools including videos developed by the UK Trauma Council.