How we can help
Supporting Sudden Death In Children & Young Adults
Sibling Support

Talking to your child about the death of someone close may be the hardest thing you have ever done or will do.

Children experience grief differently to adults. For adults, it feels like having to wade through rivers of grief and they may get stuck in the middle of a wide sea of grieving. For children, their grieving can seem more like leaping in and out of puddles. First reactions many range from great distress to seeming not to be interested. One minute, they may be sobbing, the next they are asking “what’s for tea? It does not mean they care any less about what has happened.

When children ask difficult questions, there is no automatic need to give a long explanation. It is often best to start by asking: “What do you think?” and then building on their answer.

Younger children may be confused by some of the everyday expressions that people use when someone dies, such as describing the person as ‘lost’, ‘gone’ or ‘passed away’. It is best to keep language simple and direct. Saying that someone has ‘died’ or is ‘dead’ is honest, helps to avoid confusion and encourages acceptance.

2 Wish Upon A Star is able to provide support in a number of ways for brothers and sisters (depending on their age). Please ask us about the services we can arrange.

  • Play therapy
  • Young person counselling
  • Trained counsellors providing telephone, Skype and instant messaging support.


Some points to remember

  • ‘Super parents’ do not exist. Just do what you can, when you can. Be gentle on yourself.
  • There is more than one way to support your children. Choose things that you feel most comfortable with.
  • Accept that some things just can’t be ‘made better’ in a short space of time.
  • Talk to children using words that understand and ask questions to check they have understood you.
  • Give information a bit at a time if your children are younger. Pieces of the ‘jigsaw puzzle’ can be put together over time to make a complete picture.
  • Allow children how you’re are feeling. It helps them to know that it’s ok to show their feelings too.
  • Encourage children to ask questions and keep answering them – even if it’s for the 100th time.
  • Answer questions honestly and simply and be willing to say ‘I don’t know’.
  • Try to find ways in which children can be involved.
  • Keep talking about the person who has died.
  • Trust yourself and your instincts – you haven’t forgotten how to parent your child.
  • Look after yourself too.

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