As children grow older, the facts will need to be explained again and again, in ways suited to their increased understanding.

By seeing the body and attending the funeral, a bereaved child can:

• Begin to say goodbye
• Begin to accept the finality of the death
• Begin to understand what has happened
• Experience the reality instead of imagining something more frightening
• Feel supported by being part of a shared ritual

Many children who did not attend the funeral of someone close to them regret this afterwards. If for any reason they were not able to attend, it is never too late to have a memorial or other ceremony that includes them in saying goodbye.

What Bereaved Children Need Form Adults

Any adult who comes into contact with a bereaved child can do something to help – this doesn’t have to be left to experts.

Bereaved children need to feel safe and cared for.

From the adults looking after them, they need affection, calm reassurance and clear information, in words that they can understand.

They need to know:

• That someone will always be there to take care of them
• That they are not responsible for the death
• That they and others are not about to die too

Maintaining familiar surroundings and routines – for instance, at bedtimes and mealtimes – will help to give them a sense of security.

They need:

• To talk, and be given time to ask questions
• To be listened to, and taken seriously
• To be encouraged to express their feelings, but not told how they should feel
• To be included and involved

At nursery or school, they need understanding and support.

As time goes on, they need opportunities to remember the person who has died.

Children need to see adults cry and express sadness and anger, so they can learn how to mourn too. And they need to be allowed to comfort others, so they can receive comfort more easily in return.