When a child experiences the death of a loved one it can change their entire outlook on life. We spoke to Mark Lemon, the man responsible for the podcast Grief Is My Superpower, and the hugely popular Instagram account (@marklemonofficial) that's dedicated to normalising grief and the sadness over losing a loved one.
The children’s author, podcaster and grief & mental health speaker, is open about the trauma he suffered as a child. "When I was 12-years-old my father was tragically murdered and my world changed forever," he told us. "For many years I struggled to know how to express my grief and this impacted my mental health for many years. Historically, grief has never been perceived as a mental health illness, but if not supported during the early years then it can affect you in the years to come."
Mark Lemon is the man behind the popular podcast Grief Is My Superpower
Here are Mark's 7 tips to support a child after the death of a loved one...
1. Give them space
"Children tend to manage their emotions differently to adults. So, it’s important to give the child space and time to process what’s happened to them."
2. Encourage them to read
"In 2018, I wrote my award-winning children’s bereavement book, The Magical Wood. The book was written to bring comfort and solace to a child after the death of a loved one. Another book that I would recommend is Michael Rosen’s Sad Book."
The Magical Wood, £9.32, Amazon
3. Talk about the loved one that’s died
"It’s important to talk about the loved one that’s died. Perhaps create a memory box that includes special items that belonged to the person that’s died. Include photographs, perfume or aftershave, jewellery or anything special to the child. This way you can open the memory box to reflect and remember the person that’s died."
Personalised memory box, £19.99, GettingPersonal.co.uk
4. Keep to a routine
"Continuing a routine enables a bereaved child to keep to a structure following the death. Routine can bring comfort when all else feels out of sync in life."
5. Do something fun
"Perhaps sit down with the child and write a list together of fun things that they would like to do. This could involve painting, swimming, a bike ride or anything outdoors including fresh air."
6. Return to school
"Returning to school after your loved one has died can be hugely difficult and trigger emotions of sadness or anxiety. Here is a tip that you can use before returning to school. Get some Post-It Notes and a pen. On each Post-It Note write down an emotion E.g sad, angry, anxious or happy. In the morning hand the note for how the child is feeling to the teacher or teaching assistant. This way the school will have a better understansing for how the child is feeling at the start of the day. The child’s emotion might change later in the day, but this is a way of building a positive relationship with the school."
7. Normalise counselling
"There are fantastic bereavement charities available in the UK. Charities such as Winston’s Wish, Grief Encounter or Cruse are all wonderful organisations that can support a child through grief. Let the child know that speaking to someone about your feelings after your loved one has died is a helpful way of understanding your emotions."
Like this story? Sign up to the HELLO! Family Hub newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.