New booklet helping children to deal with death launched in Dying Matters Awareness Week

A new booklet to help children deal with the death of a parent or someone close to them, has been created by Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice to coincide with national Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 18-24).

Local charity, Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, has put together a booklet entitled ‘The Ground Feels Wobbly’ to help parents and other adults support children who have lost a loved-one.

‘The Ground Feels Wobbly’ is the expression used by a seven-year-old boy who found out that his mom was going to die when he was told she had a terminal illness. It encourages children to explore feelings such as grief, guilt anger and loneliness.  It also covers:

  • Children’s grief reactions
  • Supporting a child when someone close to them has a terminal illness
  • Thoughts and feelings expressed by children about death
  • Advice from the Child Bereavement Services team at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice

The Hospice cares for over 1,000 terminally ill people every year, and offers a number of services for the families and carers of patients. This includes one-to-one support and advice for parents, children and healthcare professionals on childhood bereavement.

Every 22 minutes in the UK a child loses a parent and 78% of 11-16 year olds have been bereaved of someone significant.

Ann Bracken (41) from Kings Heath, whose children received bereavement support from the Hospice said: “The team have been a lifeline for my children. The guidance given is invaluable, I honestly don’t know what we would have done without Karen at the Hospice – she’s been amazing.

“Nathan (11) and Niamh (9) were in a really bad way when their Nan died. We were very close – me, my mom and my children – so when she passed away they were devastated. Karen helped both my children to explore their feelings which helped them to grieve. She built up their self-esteem and their sense of resilience.  Nathan and Niamh relied on Karen and she’s never let them down. They now think of her as a friend who has helped them through a very difficult time.”

Karen Ward, Bereavement Co-ordinator and Children’s Service at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: “We felt we had to create this booklet to help parents who are struggling to have this inevitable conversation.  As a parent, the last thing you ever want to do is tell your child that someone they love is going to die or has died. Many parents find it difficult to know how and when is the right time to do this, and worry about the affect this may have on their child.

“We’ve carefully thought about the different aspects parents can discuss with their children, giving them guidance on how to support their child both during their loved-ones illness and after they die. We’d encourage any parent or carer facing this difficult task to use this booklet to help broach the subject.”

A Dying Matters Awareness week community event will be taking place in Kings Heath Village Square from 12-2pm on Friday May 22.

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