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SUPPORTING BEREAVED CHILDREN DURING THE OUTBREAK
The outbreak of Covid-19 means that many aspects of children's lives are changing. School is closed for most, lots of parents are working from home, and families are having to spend time apart when they would like to be together. The news is full of talk of the virus and the effect it is having.
Many children will have questions and worries about the virus, but those who have experienced the death of someone important or who have an ill family member might be particularly worried.
The following information could help if your child has lost or is about to lose someone, such as a family member or friend.
If your child is about to lose someone
If a child has a loved one, such as a friend or family member who's going to die, they can benefit from special support.
A child's stress level is often at its highest before bereavement because of fear and the unknown.
Pre-bereavement counselling gives a child a chance to think and talk about their feelings and share their worries.
If a child has lost someone
Talk about the person who has died
During bereavement, it can help a child to talk about the person who's died, whether it was a grandparent, parent, brother, sister or friend.
Direct, honest and open communication is more helpful than trying to protect your child by hiding the truth. If you exclude them from family ceremonies and services after someone has died it could make them feel excluded.
This can also help your child be open about their own feelings and avoid confusion about what has happened. It may be helpful to talk as a family, perhaps with your child, about how to include them in any events that celebrate or say goodbye to the person who has died.
It's important for them to have someone with whom they can talk about that person and share their emotions. This could be through photos, games, memory boxes or stories.
Over time, children may start to talk more about their loss at different times and in different ways. Young children may start talking about death or including it in their play, but this is normal and is a way for them to make sense of what has happened.
Further support for your child
There are also bereavement charities that offer helplines, email support, and online communities and message boards for children.
Make a memory box
If the person who's died did not leave a memory box, you could make one with your child.
It can include:
shells collected on the beach
memories written on a card
anything that makes the child feel connected to that person
Don’t forget to look after yourself
It’s important to make sure you’re also getting the support you need after a loss. This can also help you to better support your child.