Just as the way that children and young people will express their feelings about the death or terminal illness of a significant person be different and unique to them so will their coping strategies.
It may be helpful to begin by asking the child or young person how they would like to be supported:
What do they want or need? What works for them? Is talking helpful? Art? Music? Sport?
If they need to talk or just sit with someone, who would they like that to be? Is it someone that they know and trust already? Is there a particular friend that they would like to sit with?
How will they let that person know that they need some time with them? Are there certain times when that person is available? How do they flag up discreetly that they are feeling upset?
Is there a safe space for the child or young person to go to when they need some quiet time? How will they let you know that they need some quiet time – will they have a ‘time out’ card or a bean bag in their ‘upset’ colour?
Are there any special dates coming up such as an anniversary or birthday, Father’s or Mother’s day? What would they like to do on these days? Do they want to join in with the usual Father’s or Mother’s day activities?
Check out how things are today. Maybe it is different to how it felt yesterday.
It is ok for you to ask questions and if you are asked a question that you are unsure about it is ok to say that you don’t know the answer. If it is something specific, for example a medical question then you may be able to help find the answer. Remember, even as grown-ups we don’t have all the answers!