Supporting families

following bereavement

Parents Supporting Children
Teddy Bear

Talking to your child about the death of a sibling can be difficult and upsetting especially when you are grieving yourself but something that should not be avoided.  Like adults, children grieve.  What is different is the way they express their grief, which will be largely dependent on the child's age and development level. 

Understanding what to say to can be daunting and if you would like advice on how to talk to your child in an age appropriate way, please contact us.  If you have any concerns about your child, then you can also refer them for one to one support.


 Below outlines the understanding of death in relation to a child cognitive development.  This is accompanied by some suggested reading to help support dialogue between parent and child.

Under 3s

  • Cognitively unable to understand the concept of death

  • Will sense the reactions of those around them

  • Might show distress as a result of separation from the person who has died

Ages 3 - 5

  • Death is seen as temporary and reversible

  • Very concrete thinkers

  • May ask the same questions over and over again to make sure nothing has changed

  • Can be clingy, regress in their behaviour, demonstrate separation anxiety and experience sleeping difficulties

  • Tend to express their thoughts and feelings through their play

Ages 6 - 8

  • Understand that death is irreversible

  • Think you can 'escape' it

  • Don't believe it could happen to them

  • Might show aggressive behaviour, have difficulty sleeping and fear being alone

Ages 9 - 11

  • Death is understood as final and irreversible

  • Great interest in the scientific and biological aspects of death

  • Might appear cold

Ages 12+

  • Have an adult understanding of death

  • Death shatters their view of immortality

  • Might engage in risk taking behaviours in an attempt to test the limits of their immortality

  • Can be very emotional

  • Might not share their thoughts or feelings with other family members

  • Prefer to be with their peer group

Suggested reading

  • The Dragonfly Story written by Kelly Owen

  • Stewart's Tree written Cathy Campbell

  • Always and Forever written by Debi Gliori / Alan Durant

  • What Does Dead Mean? written by Caroline Jay & Jenni Thomas OBE

  • Someone has died suddenly written by Mary Williams OBE

  • Michael Rosen's Sad Book written by Michael Rosen

Mindfulness Activities

Mindfulness techniques can be a useful tool to help with grief.  Below are two different ways that you can engage in mindfulness activities.

Breathing Techniques

Here are some age appropriate breathing techniques that can be taught and practiced as a way of aiding self relaxation.


Here are some guided activities that can be practiced together as a way of focusing our thoughts and aiding relaxation.