The loss of a child: The loss of a child is one of the most difficult things that can happen. If you are a parent or family member who has experienced the loss of a child, then there is no right or wrong way for you to feel. People grieve in different ways and at different rates, and in some cases you might find that it is difficult to support each other through this sad and difficult time. There are a number of different organisations that can provide additional help and support, some of which are listed below.
The loss of a sibling: It can be difficult to know how to talk to children about the death of a sibling, for fear of upsetting them further. However, avoiding talking can leave children with further fears and anxieties. Being honest and including children as much as is possible (bearing in mind their age) is often helpful. For example, children may want the opportunity to say goodbye to their sibling, or to be involved with funeral plans. You should not be afraid to show your feelings to your children.
There are a number of helpful books, for children of all ages, which look at the loss of a sibling. Your local library or bookshop will be able to provide some advice if you want to choose a book that is suitable for your family. There are also a number of support services for children dealing with the loss of a sibling, some of which are listed below.
SeeSaw is a local service that provides grief support for children, young people and their families in Oxfordshire. Through appropriate and timely support, SeeSaw can help to reduce the emotional, psychological and mental health consequences of bereavement. They provide a range of services, a follows:
- Telephone consultations to any parent or professional who is concerned about a bereaved child
- Home visits to families to assess their needs and talk about ways in which SeeSaw might be able to help
- Tailored individual support for children and young people when needed. This often involves one-to-one sessions with a support worker and takes place where the child is most comfortable – in their own home
- Specialist support to families and professionals when a parent or sibling is dying
- Family events and activity days which enable children, young people and their families to meet together in a fun and relaxed way
- Information and training to school staff when they are supporting a bereaved child in the classroom, or managing a death in the school community
- Training, consultancy and resources to professionals working with bereaved children and young people
NHS England have produced a Guide for Parents and Carers which offers clear step-by-step guidance on what happens when a child dies and where to go for further information and support.
The Lullaby Trust provides information, support, guidance and signposting for bereaved families. They have produced a series of booklets that help explain the complex thoughts and feelings of grief, as well as the practicalities of an infant bereavement. Their Helpline staff can post these to you, or you can download them from their website. Call 0808 802 6868.
The Child Death Helpline: A free, confidential helpline for anyone affected by the death of a child. The helpline is staffed by volunteer parents who have also experienced the loss of a child, call 0800 282986 or 0808 800 6019 if calling from a mobile
BLISS: Provides support for parents of babies in Special or Intensive Care Units, as well as for bereaved parents, call 0500 618140
The Child Bereavement Charity: Provides specialised support, information and training to all those affected when a baby or child dies, or when a child is bereaved. Call 0800 02 888 40
Childhood Bereavement Network: Provides information and signposting around child bereavement for parents, children and young people, families, and other caregivers.
Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS): Provides support for bereaved parents when their baby dies at, or soon after, birth. Call 020 7436 5881
Winston’s Wish: Offers practical support and guidance to families, professionals and anyone concerned about a grieving child, as well as telephone help and advice for bereaved children and siblings. Call 0845 203 0405
Child Death Reviews
The death of a child is always tragic, and leaves families with a sense of shock, devastation and loss. If you have experienced the loss of a child in your family, then we understand that talking and thinking about this will be a sensitive and painful subject.
All child deaths must be reviewed by local Child Death Overview Panels. The main purpose is to improve support to bereaved families and to try and prevent future deaths. A leaflet explaining this process can be found:
NHS England: When a child dies – A guide for parents and carers
If you want to talk about this process with the Oxfordshire CDOP, then please email OCCG.email@example.com.