From 05-11 February marks Children’s Mental Health Week, with this years’ theme being ‘My voice matters’, we asked Sophie de Bere, Meerkats Service Lead, the importance of letting children be heard.
“When someone we love dies, waves of grief often ripple throughout the family. Intense sadness, anger, confusion, shock, relief, guilt, fear, regret and disbelief are just some of the feelings often associated with the emotional rollercoaster that is grief.
Whilst children are likely to experience some or all of these feelings too, they might struggle to find the words to talk. Instead, when everything feels too big and overwhelming, many children will communicate their emotions through their behaviour. Inviting children to write down their thoughts in a notebook, drawing, using post-notes or even texting are alternative ways of empowering children to ensure they hear: ‘my voice matters’.
Supporting children through loss is not easy, particularly when other family members may be struggling too. But as adults, it’s important we guide children in normalising, validating their feelings and finding ways to help children make sense of their experiences. Giving time, space and the permission to be heard will go a long way to supporting a bereaved child to process their grief and begin to build their lives around it, full of hope for the future.”
Rowans Meerkat Service offers specialist, needs-led support to families through their child’s bereavement. Guidance to parents/carers, advice to schools and when appropriate, individual therapeutic work with children, all form this service provision. Meerkats are able to accept referrals where a family is currently receiving or has previously received, care from the Rowans Hospice.
Read more about our Child Bereavement Service.