Bereavement charity calls on everyone to remember grieving youngsters in their communities

The UK’s first childhood bereavement charity is calling on everyone to remember the grieving youngsters in their communities.

During the UK’s Children’s Grief Awareness Week (16th-23rd of November), Winston’s Wish is keen to highlight that bereaved children and young adults may be in need of support and assistance throughout the year. In a recent survey hosted by Winston’s Wish, it was discovered that 55% of bereaved young people have only spoken to a family member about their grief whereas nearly 10% of respondents say they have never spoken to anybody about their feelings.

Grief and bereavement are subjects that many of us struggle to discuss and as such, Children’s Grief Awareness Week, which runs from the 16th to the 23rd of November this year, serves to provide a space where the emotions surrounding these important topics can be openly discussed.

Grief is not an issue that affects only one age group and when young people are confronted with bereavement as well as the normal challenges of growing up, they may be in extra need of support and assistance.

Established in 1992, Winston’s Wish is the first UK charity of its kind. For more than thirty years the charity has directly supported grieving youngsters who are coping with the death of a significant individual in their lives.

Winston’s Wish Bereavement Support Worker Charley commented, “All the children and young people we support live with their grief every single day. When they’ve been bereaved, they often find themselves in a whirlpool of emotion. It’s vital to understand that there is no magic alarm clock to signal the end of their grief. With reassurance, love and support from the adults around them, they will learn to navigate the tide of grief as they grow into adulthood.”

Estimates suggest that every 22 minutes a parent dies in the UK and that doesn’t equate how many young people are having to cope with the death of a sibling, friend, grandparent, or another important person in their lives.

Children’s Grief Awareness Week was initiated as a way to recognise and raise awareness of the bereavement experiences of children and young people. During this important awareness week, expert input will be featured from the key members of the Children’s Bereavement Network, a network of children charities which serve to support grieving youngsters.

This year’s theme is ‘The Shape of Your Support’ which highlights the support network of a grieving child beyond their friends or family. Many young people are left without adequate support in their communities and they and their families are left to cope with their grief with little support outside of their immediate social circle.

Winston’s Wish has recognised the need for children and young people to be at the heart of bereavement support following the death of somebody significant for decades. Alongside directly supporting thousands of grieving young people and their families, the charity also provides free advice on their website and specialised training to education, healthcare, and other professionals in order to be best equipped to support a grieving child.

Additionally, during Children’s Grief Awareness Week, a survey will be released that allows young people with grief experience to highlight what they think should be included in official guidelines regarding bereavement in response to the Government’s official bereavement guidelines released a year ago.

Winston’s Wish is keen to highlight that grieving children and young people may need continued support throughout the year and as they grow older. Maya’s father died from suicide when she was five years old.

As a member of the Winston’s Wish Youth Team she explains, “Grief is like the ocean in many ways. At times it can feel all-consuming, all-powerful and totally inescapable. At other times it simply ebbs and flows quietly – always there but just trickling at your toes. The more time you spend with it, the less you come to notice it. But all it takes is a storm or a gust of wind, and it threatens to overwhelm again. With grief, like the ocean, no day is the same.”

As well as dealing with the challenges that are part of normal growing up, new milestones such as going to secondary school or university, getting a first job, coping with an anniversary or a change of circumstances can trigger deep-seated emotions surrounding bereavement in children and young people.

At these times Winston’s Wish is keen to reassure young people and their families that they are not alone and that support is available; they are welcome to chat online, email or call for free to speak to a bereavement support worker by calling 08088 020 021, emailing or using the live chat at Free resources such as the Grief in Common podcast series delivered by the Winston’s Wish Youth Team members, online articles and advice are also available on the website.

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