Young people experiencing a bereavement can feel isolated among their friends
When someone close to them dies, the feelings young people experience can be overwhelming and confusing – no matter what the circumstances surrounding their loss.
For a lot of children, there is often the added complication of feeling isolated if very few of their friends – if any at all – have been through the same or similar experiences.
One young person told Childline: “I lost my mum almost two years ago now. She died of cancer, and I’ve been putting on a brave face for my family this whole time. Lately I don’t think I’m able to cope anymore, and I always feel like crying or just want to be by myself. I’m starting to hate doing all the things we used to do together, and I don’t know if this is normal or not.”
The young people who speak to us often experience a huge amount of confusion about what they’re feeling, and we find many children worry about whether they are grieving in the ‘right way’.
It is important that children know there is no ‘right way’ to grieve, and finding their feet again after a loss can take much longer than they anticipate. Sometimes the feelings of loss and grief don’t come straight away, because they may be in shock or are trying to focus on other things. It is surprising for many children that they can then go onto experience these feelings acutely much later on when they expected to be fine.
As always, the best way for children and young people to start coming to terms with their loss is to talk through what they’re feeling, and not to try burying their emotions.
This can be difficult for two reasons – firstly, friends who haven’t experienced loss may not know how to talk about bereavement, and can sometimes feel uncomfortable with the magnitude of the impact it is having on their friend.
Secondly, some children may find it difficult talking about their feelings to people who are also going through the grieving process for fear of adding to the weight of their worries.
The best thing a parent or carer can do during this time is reassure the child that they should always talk about how they feel.
Children and young people can also speak to our Childline counsellors, over the phone or online, at any time of day or night.
For free confidential advice and support about any worries, children and young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or www.childline.org.uk.