Imagine for a moment being in a bereaved person’s head — it might look like this:

• You are reading at your desk now, having just had your heart broken. Could you concentrate?
• Could you take in information about the outside world when all you can think about is the turmoil in your inner world?
• What are you to do with these feelings? You have not been taught how to manage these confusions.
• Tears well up. Everyone crowds around you at break, but all you want to do is cry. You can’t do that as it is embarrassing and you may never stop.
• By next week, they will forget to ask and how can anyone understand anyway?
• You keep lots inside at home for fear of upsetting anyone; there have been enough tears.
• Most of the stuff in your head is too difficult to explain anyway.
• Everyone else’s life is the same…but yours has changed forever. Things get easier, but months on, little things can really upset you.

How you can help

• Don’t be afraid of your child’s tears or distress. This is normal and children need to know this by reassurance and comfort.
• Try to talk to your children honesty and explain what has happened in a way they can understand. They need reliable information.
• Try to talk about the funeral so they can make an informed decision about whether to attend or not. Give them opportunity to be included in the service and help them to say their goodbyes in their way.
• Encourage your children to talk about the person who died.
• There isn’t a normal way to grieve—but remember it is a process and can’t be measured in days and weeks.
• It is a good idea to inform school of your loss and keep them updated.
• Children will react in a variety of ways. Be prepared for anger, sadness, anxiety, confusion, guilt, denial and many mixed emotions. Children may manifest behavioural difficulties or become withdrawn. They may be upset one minute and playing happily the next.
• Be prepared to seek help/support if you need it.

Used, with kind permission, from www.griefencounter.org.uk