Through bereavement and beyond: Booklet helps parents to support grieving children

Jul 26, 2020


IT IS, in the saddest of circumstances, the ‘elephant in the room’. For adults, grief at the death of a family member is difficult to bear and comprehend. For children, the loss of a loved relative, parent or grandparent is even more so.

Now one of the region’s oldest family-owned businesses has stepped in to help the parents of grieving children to support and comfort them through bereavement.

Neville Funerals, based in Luton with branches in Bedford, Ampthill, Shefford and Woburn Sands, has delivered more than 300 copies of its booklet Supporting a Child Through Bereavement and Beyond to schools across the region. 

The booklet covers a range of topics including how to break bad news, typical behaviours and what to look out for, how to explain a funeral, burial or cremation and looking to the future. Neville Funerals first published the booklet last year in response to questions commonly asked by parents and relatives who were struggling to support their children.

Neville Funeral Services director Charmian Alexander

“With our usual bereavement services and forums such as Talking Elephants temporarily on hold, we looked to what else we could do to offer support across our communities and so quickly set to print a number of extra copies of the Child Bereavement booklet to be able to distribute them to where they could do most good,” said director Charmian Alexander.

Supplying these specialist books to schools could reach a larger number of those pupils mourning the loss of family members and help young people in their community come to terms with their loss, she added.

Schools have welcomed the initiative. Jo Adams, head teacher at William Austin Junior School in Luton, said: “It is excellent. We have had a number of pupils who have lost grandparents, and also staff members who have lost parents, or other members of their family. I can see how this would help us support pupils when they return to school.”

Alison Symonds, senior assistant head teacher for St Josephs & St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School in Bedford, added: “We have been giving a lot of thought to this issue and have had several deaths in our community that have affected children. We think the book is of a very high quality and chimes with our knowledge and ethos around bereavement.”

Neville Funerals felt that school could make best use of the booklet, whether for the children of key workers and selected year groups currently in the classroom or preparing for the new academic year in September. 

“When children experience bereavement, it can be a very difficult time as they try to cope with unfamiliar feelings and comprehend what has happened and why,” said Ms Alexander. “We get lots of questions from parents and carers who are unsure how to best support their children, especially when they themselves are grieving. 

“Every child is unique and will cope with their loss in their own way. There is no rule book that says how to support your child but we hope our guide helps supporting adults to make sense of things for the children in their care, answers some questions and gives a better understanding of what they might need throughout the days, weeks, months and even years ahead.”

Read the booklet online at

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