Families, parents & carers

Grief affects the whole family – we’ll support you before and after a death

Help and advice to understand and cope with child bereavement

Our support is for pre and post bereavement , to support the child ahead of an expected death or after.

Our help can range from a little to a lot, including a telephone call, video chats, a postal resource pack, individual support, or group support.

We decide together what’s needed and are here as and when you need us.


Before a bereavement:

If a death is expected, we support the child and their family ahead of the death in a number of ways.

Referrals may come from the GP, school, or family.

Once we have received a referral, we will make contact with the family.

We arrange to meet at a mutually convenient time and place, either in-person at home, at a hospital, a hospice or somewhere else, or we can also meet using video calling or telephone too; it’s up to the family which they prefer.

All support and resources are free to the families we help and support.


Support before a bereavement could include:

Queries

Talking about the death and exploring the child’s fears and questions – they may not feel able to ask these to those around them.

Words

Looking at language – how diagnosis and death is talked about; which words are used; what language you would like to use to keep everything clear for the child.

Family support

Meeting other family members – we might invite others into our sessions, either face-to-face or digitally, to open up the conversation to the whole family who can support the child and be confident in what they are saying to them, alongside encouraging special memory making activities.

Memory box

We will usually start a memory box with the child, enabling them to start adding precious memories to keep for the future. We would also support the dying person to add to this, with letters and cards for the future as one idea.

They might also like to give them some of their personal belongings; jewellery, a hat, or something precious to them, that their child can now look after.

Funeral planning

We can support the child and their family through the funeral preparation. This could include visiting the venue so they know where it will be, talking through what will happen and giving them a clear idea of what to expect; children often like to think in timelines and we help them to understand it ahead of the day. We would also talk about any fears or worries they have.

We also establish how much or little they would like to be included in the funeral organisation and events.

We can also support an adult close to them, to be prepared if the child needs to leave the funeral or if they aren’t attending the funeral, we help with something at home, so that they have still marked the event in their own way.

After a bereavement:

Families usually come to us around six months after the death, but if we have supported them before the death, our help may be earlier than this.

There is no right or wrong time – if your child and family needs our support, we are here to help at any stage.

Once we have received your referral, we will get in touch for an initial phone call to find out what’s happening, then plan our support from there.

You may just need some regular phone calls and advice to help to understand your child’s grief and support them, or you may need us to meet you and your child to offer more help.

Once we know, we can offer support in a variety of ways:

Telephone/video:

Regular or ad-hoc help for you as and when you need it to give you information, ideas, support or answer queries about behaviour, language, communication, any upcoming milestone or just so you feel less isolated.

It’s a great starting block to help you to acknowledge what’s normal – emotions, feelings, thoughts and functioning, and what to look out for in the children, in terms of when you worry about their emotions or behaviour.

We can also signpost you for financial help and support.

Postal resource pack:

We have a wonderful resource pack that we send to out the children and families we support. Packed with useful information and ideas to help families to cope in the early days of a bereavement.

School:

We can work with your child’s school to help them to understand your child’s grief and support them through their bereavement.

Individual support:

We usually offer 6 sessions of one-to-one support, and then look at where we are at the end of these. If further support is needed, we book more sessions, but we also look at whether our bereavement support weekend might also be useful.

Bereavement support weekend (group support):

Children & young people’s support:

We invite children and young people aged 6-17 years. to a two-day, non-residential bereavement support weekend, held at one of our venues across Kent.

Here, they can meet other bereaved children; many won’t have met another bereaved child up to this point and we find that just by meeting others with a similar experience, it enables them to feel less isolated or not the only one that it’s happened to, as they might have done at school.

They enjoy lots of arts, crafts and music sessions, which enable them to express how they feel without having to find words; something children find hard for such a big emotion as grief.

They can write, draw, decorate, play music and of course, talk too – to explore their feelings and perhaps, share things they haven’t wanted to, been able to or hadn’t known were there before.

Parent & carer support:

Alongside the children’s activities, we also invite their parents or carers to the weekends too, so that we can give them support, the chance to meet others in a similar situation and talk freely about their own fears and concerns. We can share with them how children grieve and give them coping strategies for now and in the future too.

This is a supportive group, held away from the children. We invite parents / carers to share their story if they wish to.

We always ask what they’d like to get out of the weekend. There might be particular issues they need help with, such as anger, not going to school, not going to bed, bullying, or something else.

We also look at how they can create their own memories using memory jars which they can share with their children later.

It’s an opportunity to compare notes, share what’s working for you, offer insight into how you have solved a problem similar to one that another parent or carer is having.

It’s usually the start of friendships amongst the parents and carers which we encourage after the weekend has finished as a support mechanism.

By having both the children and families at the weekend, they are all able to move forward together, having it in common each taking away different things.

Often, the children can feel better supported by the parents, knowing they too have had some help from us.

Both children and adults often arrive full of trepidation about what the weekend might involve, but leave in a very different positive frame of mind.

Read some of our families’ feedback to find out what they were worried about and the changes they have seen since coming - it might be the same as yours.

What parents have said:

I learnt to let the children have time to think/express about the loss of their Dad even though for me our relationship ended years ago.

I have a more positive outlook and have grown in confidence since being in the group.

I will make time to answer their questions and be as honest as I can be.

Loved the practical activities that helped me link them with my emotions.

Better equipped to deal with Life and death now.

I’ve met others in a similar situation and heard different experiences of how others are coping.

I now recognise more, how important memories are.

It’s given me strategies to help me with the children to process their grief and helped me to begin processing my own grief too.

Bereavement Café (for parents & carers)

Opened in autumn 2021, our bereavement café is a place for you to find others who have had their own loss and can appreciate something of your experience.

We invite the families we support, to come and share their experiences.

You can talk about the pain of loss and find mutual support and encouragement when you need it.

It’s not counselling – but a place to find people who will listen to you and respect your story, allowing you to cry, reminisce or share a funny memory if that’s how you are feeling and it’s what you need.

Get in touch if you would like to find out more about our Bereavement Café.

Parent & carer support:

Alongside the children’s activities, we also invite their parents or carers to the weekends too, so that we can give them support, the chance to meet others in a similar situation and talk freely about their own fears and concerns. We can share with them how children grieve and give them coping strategies for now and in the future too.

This is a supportive group, held away from the children. We invite parents / carers to share their story if they wish to.

We always ask what they’d like to get out of the weekend. There might be particular issues they need help with, such as anger, not going to school, not going to bed, bullying, or something else.

We also look at how they can create their own memories using memory jars which they can share with their children later.

It’s an opportunity to compare notes, share what’s working for you, offer insight into how you have solved a problem similar to one that another parent or carer is having.

It’s usually the start of friendships amongst the parents and carers which we encourage after the weekend has finished as a support mechanism.

By having both the children and families at the weekend, they are all able to move forward together, having it in common each taking away different things.

Often, the children can feel better supported by the parents, knowing they too have had some help from us.

Both children and adults often arrive full of trepidation about what the weekend might involve, but leave in a very different positive frame of mind.

Read some of our families’ feedback to find out what they were worried about and the changes they have seen since coming - it might be the same as yours.

Bereavement Café (for parents & carers)

Opened in autumn 2021, our bereavement café is a place for you to find others who have had their own loss and can appreciate something of your experience. We invite the families we support, to come and share their experiences. You can talk about the pain of loss and find mutual support and encouragement when you need it. It’s not counselling – but a place to find people who will listen to you and respect your story, allowing you to cry, reminisce or share a funny memory if that’s how you are feeling and it’s what you need. Get in touch if you would like to find out more about our Bereavement Café.

Social reconnection:

We invite our families to social occasions, giving the children the chance to see friends they made at our bereavement support weekends, and adults the chance to reconnect with people they have met. We have picnics, beach days, Christmas parties and various outings – and we’re always told they’re a much-awaited and enjoyable day!