Bereavement Advice

Dear Parents/Carers,

In what is an incredibly difficult time, it is clear that a number of our children may have lost a loved one during the pandemic. This can be a complex issue for children and their families and at a time when reaching out to close family would be inevitable the complications of this pandemic has not always made this possible or safe.

The Childhood Bereavement Network explains below how some children may react in the instance of a death close to or in their family.

‘Children’s reactions to bereavement are affected by many factors. These may be to do with who has died, how they died, what their relationship was with the person who has died, how the family expresses their feelings and communicates, what other things are going on at the same time and whether their school and home community are supportive. Important factors will include the child or young person’s age and understanding of what has happened, and whether they are naturally quite resilient or quite anxious.

Children tend to move through many emotions and reactions very quickly: it is sometimes described as ‘puddle jumping’ (while adults may wade through rivers of grief or become stuck in the middle of seas of distress) it is natural for them to be extremely upset at one minute and then wanting to know what is for tea: it does not mean they are not distressed by what has happened.’

Some responses may be feelings, some may be behaviours or thoughts. The psychologist Atle Dyregrov lists the following as some of the common reactions among bereaved children:

  • anxiety
  • insecurity and worry about other family members
  • vivid memories
  • sleep difficulties
  • sadness and longing
  • anger and acting-out behaviour
  • guilt, self-reproach and blame
  • school difficulties
  • physical health complaints


Below are a list of contacts and services you may find useful should your child and yourself need support in coping with the death of a loved one.

Child Bereavement UK

Tel: 0800 02 888 40


National services include

  • Confidential information and support line for families and professionals when a child has died and when a child is bereaved
  • Web discussion fora for families and for professionals
  • Resources for bereaved children and young people, families and all professionals
  • Training courses on bereavement for health care and other professional


Telephone: 0800 1111


National services include

  • Free national helpline for children and young people on any issue or problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
  • Freepost service

Cruse Bereavement Care


  • Freephone National Helpline: 0808 808 1766
  • Administration: 020 8939 9530


Many local branches of Cruse offer individual or group support for bereaved children. Those that are members of the Childhood Bereavement Network are listed in the map above: others can be accessed by ringing the helpline or visiting the Cruse website.

Cruse has a special website for young people. A special feature of this site is a message board where young people can share their experiences and receive replies from trained young supporters.

Grief Encounter

Telephone: 0808 802 0111


National services include

  • GriefTalk call, email or instant chat support for bereaved children and young people and those caring for them 9am-9pm Monday to Friday
  • Resources for bereaved children and young people, families and professionals
  • Training courses and bespoke training including Good Grief training course.

Winston’s Wish

Telephone: Family Line 08088 020 021


National services include

  • National helpline for all those caring for a child or young person who has been bereaved
  • Website with activities for children and young people and facility to ask questions of a trained clinician
  • Programme of direct support for families bereaved through suicide, murder or manslaughter
  • Resources including books and memory boxes


Mrs Pereira has also compiled a list of books that help discuss bereavement with children

1.       Open discussion about bereavement- highly recommended 2.       Story involving bereavement
3.       Story involving loss 4.       I Miss You: A First Look At Death is a book that helps children who have lost a loved one, learn how to cope with grieving. It helps them to understanding the emotions they are feeling and to let them know that its normal to feel that way when losing someone they love.
5.       Parents, educators, therapists, and social workers alike have declared The Invisible String the perfect tool for coping with all kinds of separation anxiety, loss, and grief. In this relatable and reassuring contemporary classic, a mother tells her two children that they’re all connected by an invisible string. 6.       The book’s topic is dealing with grief. Although it is marketed as a children’s book, Rosen explicitly mentions on the inside book jacket that it is for everyone. Better for upper KS2. Very sad.
7.       An inquisitive little girl, who is enchanted by the world around her, is badly shaken when she loses someone she loves. 8.       Paper Dolls is about a girl who makes paper dolls with her mother and takes them on adventures around the house and garden. A boy snips them to pieces with his scissors, but the dolls don’t disappear. Instead, they go into the girl’s memory.
9.       Granpa nurses his granddaughter’s dolls, mistakes her strawberry-flavoured pretend ice-cream for chocolate, takes her tobogganing in the snow, and falls in with her imaginary plans to captain a ship to Africa, like all good Granpa’s should. It is a friendship that children who read this book will long remember. Deals less with bereavement and more with th importance of spending time with loved ones.


10.   A succesful book that deals gently and clearly with issues of loss and death for young children. Now 35 years old, Badger’s Parting Gifts has been used by countless families experiencing bereavement to help talk about their feelings.


These are just a few resources that may or may not help your family but we hope that you know that as a school community, St. Stephen’s is here to help you in this difficult time.

Thank you,

Emma Mahon

PSHE Coordinator