Loss and Bereavement – Bite size advice for Supporting Children and Young People

Sadly, loss and bereavement are normal but can be very difficult events in life. They have become more complicated during the coronavirus pandemic.

Losses without death
Children and young people can suffer loss without death due to the interference of the coronavirus pandemic on their normal life, impacting on:

    • Family: relationships, safety and financial security
    • Seeing friends
    • Their possessions
    • School: trust in adults and what they say
    • Sports and activities
    • Loss of hoped-for futures and opportunities

Bereavement has been made more complex and difficult as some children and young people have been unable to say goodbye to loved ones and grieve in the normal way. People are often grieving without the support that they would normally have from extended family and friends. If you are unsure whether a child or family have had a bereavement or not, it is wise to ask an adult in the family.


For both bereavement and other losses

More for bereavement and other losses

Bereavement is complicated by the pandemic

The reality of death

Active listening is essential to understand other people

  • Listen very carefully
  • Summarise
  • Reflect back what you think you heard
  • Check you have it right
  • Defer judgement
  • Expand with open questions e.g. “Is there anything else you want to talk about?”
  • Respond appropriately – beware of leaping into premature action, be open to working out a collaborative plan

More suggestions


Memory making is important for the bereaved

Some people (a smaller number) will need additional professional support

Children’s behaviours and moods may change. They may


Sometimes, relationships are very unhappy, e.g. in abusive relationships. Here, bereavement is more complex

Remember children with other vulnerabilities, such as (not exhaustive)

Some warning signs that a child or young person may need extra help

Further Resources



This document provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this document, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read in this document or in any linked materials. If you think you may have an emergency, call an appropriate source of help and support such as your doctor or emergency services immediately.

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© 2023 NHS England, MindEd Programme 

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