Bereavement and Loss
If you are worried that bereavement will affect your son, please let the school know as soon as possible. It may be that you just want us to keep an eye on your son or it may be that you want to arrange for your son to see the school councillor or have a trusted adult in school he can go to if he wants to talk. Nobody should go through bereavement alone and together, we will support both you and your son at this difficult time.
The death of a loved one in a child’s life carries an array of feelings and emotions. Childhood grief is not a singular emotion or emotional state; rather, it encompasses a wide range of emotions that can alternate between sadness, loneliness, confusion, anger, fear, worry or even moments of joy and happiness.
Like adults, children grieve in their own unique way. Some may readily talk about the death. Younger children, especially, may struggle to understand the concept of death, that it’s irreversible and what it means when somebody has died. Older children and adolescents may appear to avoid the topic — even eager return to school or play with their friends.
Below are links to websites with lots of good advice and coping strategies aimed at helping older children and teenagers cope with death.
How to tell a child someone has died.
Helping children understand their grief.
Coping with anniversaries, birthdays and special days.
Ways to remember: Download a one page guide here.
Should children attend a funeral?
Helping children with SEND understand their loss.
Coping with death
Serious Illness: https://www.winstonswish.org/serious-illness/
General websites with advice and activities for supporting your family through a bereavement.
Books and further reading which may support your child.
BOOKS FOR AGE 9–12 YEARS
Lifetimes: The beautiful way to explain death to children
By Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen, 1998
This sensitive book is a useful tool in explaining to children that death is a part of life and that, eventually, all living things reach the end of their own special lifetimes. It clearly explains about life and death focussing on plants, animals and insects before moving on to people. It emphasises that death is part of the life cycle and is natural and normal whenever it occurs.
Only One of Me: A love letter from Mum, Only One of Me: A love letter from Dad
By Lisa Wells and Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
This tender and moving rhyming poem, with charming illustrations which is both a love letter to Lisa’s own daughters and a testament to the unwavering strength of parental love, a timeless message for families facing the challenges of bereavement. Mother of two, Lisa Wells, was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 31 and these two books grew from her determination to leave a lasting legacy for her daughters and her desire to help other families.
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book
By Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake, 2004
This book is a simple but emotive story chronicling Michael’s grief at the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 19. He talks about what sad is and how it affects him and what he does to cope with it. A moving combination of sincerity and simplicity, it acknowledges that sadness is not always avoidable or reasonable and perfects the art of making complicated feeling plain. It is wonderfully honest and will appeal to children and adults of all ages.
Milly’s Bug Nut
By Jill Janney, 2002
A short, simple story of a young girl who’s Dad has died. It talks about the ups and downs of a family finding their way through bereavement and how things slowly get easier as time goes. Milly misses her Dad and things are just not the same anymore. She knows when people die, they can’t come back but she still keeps a wish to see her Dad one more time.
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece
By Annabel Pitcher, 2013
Told through the eyes of 10-year-old Jamie, this book sensitively tackles issues around grief, terrorism, racism and bullying. We meet Jamie in the midst of his family falling apart after the traumatic death of his older sister Rose – her urn on the mantelpiece is the only constant in an otherwise unsettling life. His mother leaves, his father turns to alcohol, and Jamie and his sister Jasmine are left to fend for themselves. With surprising friendships and cunning plans, Jamie and Jas muddle through in the way that only children can.
The Cat Mummy
By Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt, 2002
Verity’s Mum died the day she was born but she rarely talks about her. Verity doesn’t want to upset her Dad or Grandparents. This humorous but sensitive story mainly focuses on Verity’s missing cat Mabel but reveals some of the misunderstandings and anxieties children can have about death. It also shows it can be good to be open, honest and to talk about difficult issues.
The Secret C: Straight talking about cancer
By Julie A. Stokes OBE, illustrated by Peter Bailey, 2009
This booklet is aimed at supporting parents or carers to explain to their child what cancer means and how it may affect their family and encourages open communication and questions about cancer within the family. Through pictures, captions and straightforward language, it explains how tumours are formed, what the various treatments are and how these may affect the person with cancer. It stresses the need to keep to family routines and, importantly, to still try and have fun. It is aimed at children aged 7 to 10 years and will work best when an adult is present to expand on the simple messages in the text.
What on Earth Do You Do When Someone Dies?
By Trevor Romain, 2003
This book for older children is a factual guide, answering questions such as ‘why do people have to die?’, ‘is it okay to cry?’ and ‘what is a funeral/memorial service?’ It is written in a straightforward way, with practical tips, advice and information about different faiths and beliefs. It describes the strong, confusing feelings you might have and suggests ways to feel better. He tells you it’s okay to cry, talk about the death, grieve, and go on with your life.
BOOKS FOR AGE 13 – 16 YEARS
A Fault in our Stars
By John Green, 2013
This is a moving and funny book about a young teenage girl, Hazel, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer and attends a cancer support group where she meets Augustus. The couple embarks on a rollercoaster of emotions, including love, sadness and romance, while searching for the author of their favourite book.
A Monster Calls
By Patrick Ness, 2015
This moving fantasy novel is the story of a 13-year-old boy who is coping with the diagnosis of his mother’s cancer. A book about stories and myths, about courage and loss and the fear of loss. Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window.
Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers: How to Cope with Losing Someone You Love
By Earl A. Grollman, 1993
This book was written after the author spoke to thousands of teenagers and found they often felt forgotten after someone has died. Written in short, clear sentences that are easy to read, it covers feelings, different types of death and the future. This book gives the reader many options of what can happen, how s/he may feel, giving advice and reassuring readers grief is normal.
The Lost Boys’ Appreciation Society
By Alan Gibbons, 2004
Teenage life is difficult enough for Gary and John, but when their Mum dies in a car accident, things get steadily worse. John struggles to keep the peace as Gary goes off the rails, saying his new mates are now his family. With GCSE exams looming and his Dad going out on dates, things become unbearable for John. A gripping book exploring relationships and how different people react to life events