Explaining the death of a sibling to children can be very difficult for parents who are also dealing with their own grief. Parents may feel the need to protect them, especially when the child may struggle to understand the concept of death or when you don’t have a reason for why it happened.
It is important to tell children about the death of their sibling as soon as possible, however it is also important for parents to allow themselves some time to process what has happened. It can help to wait to talk to young children at a time when parents feel able to answer any questions and explore how the children feel.
Parents may want to ask a family member or someone close to the child to be present as they may initially find it too difficult to talk about their baby’s death. Children are often more aware of what is going on than parents expect and they are likely to feel unsettled if they sense that something is wrong but don’t know what it is.
Parents can find a selection of books and animations which have been designed to open up conversations with children about a sibling that they may or may not have met and help to address the sadness that is experienced when a baby dies.
How can you support your child?
Studies have identified the 3 most important ways to help children who have lost a sibling:
- Recognising and acknowledging the child’s grief, this will look different depending on the age of your child;
- Including them in family rituals, such as creating memories of your baby, selecting items for a memory box or choosing a teddy to place with or in your baby’s coffin.
- Keeping the memory of the baby alive in the family by talking about them and celebrating special dates or anniversaries.
Where can you find support?
You can find support with the following organisations:
Offers support to bereaved children and young people.
Helpline: 08088 020 021
Child Bereavement UK
Helps children and young people through bereavement.
Helpline: 0800 02 888 40
Provides sibling memory boxes for children after the death of their brother or sister
Produced an informative booklet to support siblings.
Helpline: 020 7436 5881
Tommy’s exists to support, care for and champion people, no matter where they may be on their pregnancy journey.
Helpline: 0800 014 7800