This may help.....activities to do with a child that has been bereaved
The following are some examples of activities that may:
- support a bereaved child or young person and their family
- preserve a continuing link with the person who has died
- involve children and young people in the mourning process
- help bereaved children and their families take steps along their unique bereavement journeys
Making a Memory Box
Bereaved children will benefit from collecting into a special box items that remind them of the person who has died and times shared with them. Examples could be:- cards received, perfume or aftershave, shells from a beach holiday, tickets from an outing, an item of clothing, jewellery or photographs…….You can find specially designed memory boxes and information sheets in our Shop.
Making a Memory Book
This is a scrapbook containing pictures, drawings, tickets, postcards, letters, certificates – all important keepsakes connected with the person who has died.
A family record can help a child or young person gain a sense of where they and the person who has died fits into the family. A family tree can be put together. Family photographs, documents, certificates and mementoes can be included. It can be particularly powerful to include stories about the person’s life which can be contributed by family members and friends; this is often a welcome way for them to be involved. For example, what was the funniest thing the person ever did ? What was their best subject at school ? If you are going to include videos or sound tapes of the person who has died – please consider making a copy – just to be on the safe side.
Telling the story
It is important that children and young people gain a clear understanding of what happened to the person who died. Younger children may appreciate using dolls, model figures or puppets to tell the story. Older children may prefer to use paper and pens. It can help them tell what happened if they break the story into 5 or so pieces:
- what was life like before they died ?
- what happened just before they died ?
- how did they die ? what happened ?
- what happened immediately afterwards
- what is life like now ?
Listening to them tell what happened gives a chance gently to correct any misunderstandings, to provide additional information and to answer any questions.
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- Calendar of memories
Mark important dates connected with the person who has died on a calendar which you can then share with other people.
- Feelings, feelings
Compare your feelings with our feelings grid
Add a star to our skyscape of memories
Bereaved children can have difficulties sleeping; both in getting to sleep through worrying and grieving, and in experiencing nightmares or disturbing dreams.
For worrying, try South American worry dolls. (you can buy these in ‘Oxfam’ or similar shops or make your own). 5 or 6 tiny doll-like figures are held within a tiny cloth bag with a drawstring. South American children are encouraged at bedtime to whisper one big worry to each doll. The dolls are then placed under the pillow and the dolls take over the task of worrying for the night.
For bad dreams and nightmares, try the American Indian legend of the ‘Dreamcatcher’. (You can buy these from some ‘Oxfam’ or similar shops or make your own). The legend tells how all the dreams of the world flow over our heads as we sleep. Our dreams are caught by the Dreamcatcher’s web; the bad dreams stick to the strands of the web and the good dreams filter softly down the feathers to the sleeper beneath. Some Dreamcatchers have beads woven onto the web – these represent ‘heroes’ and a child can choose their own heroes to help hold back the bad dreams (for example, one could be Dad, another could be a football star, another could be the family dog etc)
Anxiety on parting
Bereaved children can become very concerned about being apart from their parent(s) or carers after a death. They may worry that other people will also die or in some way disappear from their lives.
Place your hand and your child’s hand on a piece of paper, with one or more fingers touching. Draw around the hands. Do another sheet so that each of you has a copy. Then each person keeps their copy safe – for a child, it could be tucked into a school bag, or a coat pocket. Whenever they feel the need to be close to you, they place their hand over their handprint and ‘feel’ your hand alongside, supporting and encouraging them.
When parting, mention something that will happen after school (or wherever the child is spending the day). For example, ‘remind me to buy potatoes when I collect you’; ‘let’s feed the ducks on the way home tonight’; ‘we must water the plants this afternoon’. Having a glimpse of the future that includes both of you can be comforting.
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